George Lucas picks architects for his museum in Chicago


George Lucas has chosen the architectural team that will work on his planned museum in Chicago, selecting blue-chip talent both local and international. The team includes Beijing-based Ma Yansong, the founder of China’s MAD Architects, and Chicago-based architect and former MacArthur fellow Jeanne Gang.

The “Star Wars” director made the announcement Monday, saying in a release that “we are bringing together some of the top architects in the world to ensure that our museum experience begins long before a visitor ever enters the building.”

Leaders said that the design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be released in late 2014. No completion date for the museum has been officially announced, but Lucas has previously said that he hopes it will open in 2018.


Ma -- who is a relatively young architect, still in his 30s -- will be responsible for the design and overall concept of the museum building, which will be located on Chicago’s lakefront museum campus near the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum.

The architect is most famous for designing Canada’s Absolute Towers, which are located near Toronto and are often referred to as the Marilyn Monroe Towers for their curvy design. He has also worked on a number of projects in China, most notably the Ordos Museum in Inner Mongolia and Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing.

Leaders said that Ma was chosen for his firm’s “innovative approach to design and the firm’s philosophy of connecting urban spaces to natural landscapes.” The runner-up firm was Amsterdam-based UNStudio.

Museum officials said that a bridge will be built to connect the museum complex to Chicago’s Northerly Island, and that Gang will design the bridge and lead the landscape design for the museum. Gang’s firm has worked on developing Northerly Island into an urban park space in recent years.

VOA Associates, a Chicago firm, will serve as the executive architect and lead the implementation of Ma’s design.

Lucas announced in June that he had chosen Chicago for his planned museum. The city beat out San Francisco, which had actively courted Lucas, and Los Angeles, which threw its hat into the ring late in the game with a proposed site near Exposition Park.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT