Credit: Brubaker, C. William/Courtesy UIC Library

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has hatched a new plan for the Lucas Museum—now bogged down in a lawsuit over its proposed use of Park-District-owned lakefront land—and it reportedly goes like this:

Just tear down McCormick Place East (the Lakeside Center) and build Lucas’s double-pimple splotch of a building (designed by Beijing-based Ma Yansong) right there! Lucas would have his downtown waterfront site, without taking over any open lakefront land.

This will, however, run into its own set of objections.

The Miesian McCormick Place East, which opened in 1971, was designed by Gene Summers, working with a young Helmut Jahn at C.F. Murphy and Associates, and has its ardent fans. It landed a place on Preservation Chicago’s list of the city’s most endangered buildings this year.

“It’s a really remarkable building—the best of the McCormick Place convention facilities, and, perhaps, the best convention facility architecturally in the United States,” says Preservation Chicago executive director Ward Miller.

“It was designed by a who’s who of architects and Mies van der Rohe students,” Miller says. “The idea of replacing a first-class building like that on the lakefront with another building which may not be as good or as beautiful as the one that’s there is really criminal. Here’s a city that wants to be taken seriously for its architecture and its preservation of these buildings of the modern movement—and at every turn we seem to throw that legacy out the window.”

Miller has another idea: he thinks the existing Lakeside Center building, with its stealth persona and flexible space, could make a fine home for the Lucas Museum.