Creating Boulevard Culture

Board Building Chicago Avenue Design Directors

John Kern discusses the benefits of a smaller-than-planned museum building on Chicago Avenue, which allowed for an activation of city sphere around it.

They were very clear reasons, but they were intellectual reasons, to have a line of sight—lake and a water tower—from the main second floor here. And actually the plaza, which we came up with because we didn’t spend—produced quite enough millions for that big of building. But Kleihues took the existing design that he’d come up with to show us—I was on the design review committee—take that and he just shrunk it 10 or 15 percent, whatever it was. Then we said, “Get it back to the midline that we have of that total space.” So that we would have a plaza and all the things that are able to be done and have been done that also meet with the general public—every Tuesday market day and all the other events. We wouldn’t have had any kind of space like that if we’d had the full-size plan that was his original design. Also, we didn’t succeed, I believe, in getting Kleihues to understand that we were really a museum for all aspects of art as it relates to that high cultural sight of boulevard culture. And we’re able to do that. Of course, Madeleine Grynsztejn has just been a wonderful director to really get it on the way to it’s full fruition.

Installation view, MCA Chicago Plaza Project
: Alexandre da Cunha, MCA Chicago, Jul 18, 2015–Jul 24, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, MCA Chicago Plaza Project
: Alexandre da Cunha, MCA Chicago, Jul 18, 2015–Jul 24, 2016. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

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