OMA’s elevated LCAM chicago museum proposal wrapped in transparent ETFE
ETFE foil is essentially a plastic polymer related to Teflon and is created by taking the polymer resin and extruding it into a thin film. It is largely used as a replacement for glazing due to its high light transmission properties.
International architecture studio OMA put forward their proposal for the lucas cultural arts museum (LCAM) that would’ve been sited in chicago, america. the museum would be dedicated to the art and design of storytelling through a combination of three collections: illustration and storytelling art; digital art and art in motion—complemented by educational and outreach programs.
The museum project was originally planned to be realized by mad architects – announced at the end of last year – since then, the scheme has been dropped and after extensive delays, the location of chicago will no longer be considered a potential site for the scheme. the board of directors and executive leadership of the museum confirmed that california will be its location.
‘it is a museum that aims to be porous and open. spread across the site, the museum’s program would claim a vast swath of land at the waterfront, while simultaneously appearing as a supplicant to the enormity of soldier field. tied to the ground, the building in this form is neither iconic nor civic; its generosity is thwarted by its breadth, its grandness swamped by the bombast of its neighbor.’
Led by architect shohei shigematsu, OMA‘s proposal creates a vertical gallery on the site and an atrium tower that elevates the traditional, horizontal galleries that accommodate LCAM’s three collections. the tower suspends the galleries above the city, but also connects them to it. lifting the main galleries enables the site below to be preserved as a new urban park, while simultaneously providing maximum flexibility within the horizontal gallery plate itself. the scheme sees the horizontal plate and vertical tower enveloped within a dome-like membrane that expands the museum’s physical and emotional presence within the city. this membrane—a cloud of ETFE pillows—creates a sheltered, lifted public space for chicago (sky park). like a park, it is freely accessible like an urban plaza, it is a flexible territory that accommodates a range of activities and in turn, evolves into a social space that engages the public to share and create.
The ETFE membrane is fritted to accept projections both from within and from the outside. inside the sky park, projections can be used as an integral part of larger displays and presentations. meanwhile, at the ground level, projects can transform the museum park into an outdoor or drive in cinema. the museum’s theater and lecture spaces are located at the base of the tower, allowing for separate ground level entry and expansion to the museum park at ground level. a series of escalators lead visitors up to the gallery levels and lifted sky park above. from these levels, elevators presenting views of the vertical gallery show visitors to the offices, event space and observation deck at the top of the tower. lifted, the building offers eight times the public space it occupies. the park space that surrounds the building—a flexible surface that can accommodate both grasses and parking. the museum park can be used for a range of public events and activities, casting the building as the backdrop for new programs for local residents of the neighborhoods throughout chicago.