A new hope: Lucas Museum given thumbs-up by Chicago officials

The project is expected to open its doors sometime in 2019(Credit: Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

Following a lawsuit, a significant redesign, and not a little controversy, the Chicago City Council has finally succumbed to the Force, and approved zoning for the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The ambitious project is expected to open for business sometime in 2019.

Puns aside, the museum's unusual design does look a little like something you might see in a George Lucas movie. Due for location near Soldier Field, its twin volcano-like form will rise 136 ft (41 m) over the shores of Lake Michigan. The designers say it will merge into the land, but this seems a tough task. Time will tell.

The museum will take up a sizable chunk of public space – some 300,000 sq ft (27,870 sq m) – and herein lies the controversy. Detractors, including non-profit group Friends of the Parks, oppose the privately-funded project on the grounds that what was formerly public land (mostly used as car parking space) is now being used for a private museum, and launched a lawsuit.

Lucas Museum has tackled these issues by offering several concessions. A redesign saw the original footprint of the project shrunk significantly, while simultaneously offering improved landscaping that will increase the green space open to the public. In addition, according to NBC News, the promise of increased parking and tailgating space to Chicago Bears fans also helped grease the wheels at Chicago City Council.

The museum's design is led by MAD Architects' Ma Yansong, while Chicago firm Studio Gang Architects (and New York's SCAPE) are handling landscaping. Construction is expected to begin soon.

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