Chicago is one of the premier destinations in the U.S. for trade shows, but the proposed demolition of a local convention center in favor of a new art museum could change that moving forward.
According to the Chicago Tribune, McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center seems to be Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s sacrificial lamb in a last-ditch effort to keep the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago.
Many Chicagoans view the Lakeside Center as an eyesore, but the building plays an important role in the local economy due to the massive trade shows that it hosts. Most notably, the building is home to the International Manufacturing Technology Show, which draws more than 100,000 visitors from all over the world every two years.
The Lakeside Center is also used for several major medical conferences in the area, including events for the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
“It could certainly cause a major challenge,” said Steve Drew, assistant executive director of RSNA.
About 50% of the largest 200 shows in the U.S. take place in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Orlando. Chicago’s economy is greatly influenced by these trade shows, and the proposed demolition would force the city to find new ways of generating fast revenue.
Much of this revenue should come from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which would replace the Lakeside Center if Mayor Emanuel’s plans are approved. The museum is the brainchild of “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas, who is expected to commit nearly $743 million of his own money to the project.
As Arch Newspaper reported, the Lucas Museum is currently involved in a legal battle with Friends of the Parks, a public space advocacy group that is concerned with how the museum would affect the city’s parks. This snafu has caused Lucas to reconsider the Chicago location, which prompted Mayor Emanuel to expedite the Lakeside Center demolition.
Blare Kamin, a Chicago Tribune architecture critic, recently backed the mayor’s decision to demolish the Lakeside Center, referring to it as the “shoreline’s Berlin Wall.”
There is still much left to be determined, but it seems as if the brash nature of the building’s aesthetics, paired with Mayor Emanuel’s infatuation with the Lucas Museum, could spell the end of the Lakeside Center.