Let's put up a 21-story private building in a Chicago lakefront park

Wouldn't a 21-story building look great in Grant Park? There's plenty of room. South of Buckingham Fountain, there's Hutchinson Field, wasted on a bunch of ball fields. Farther south, the Soldier Field parking lot where that goofy-looking Lucas Museum should have gone would be a swell spot.

Farther north, a 21-story building would look just ducky next to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Or plunk it down in the middle of  those soccer, football and baseball fields and Cricket Hill at Montrose Harbor; the 1 percenters living in the high rent lakefront buildings would certainly appreciate looking at the building instead of the sunrise over Lake Michigan.

And let's make sure that the new building is privately run and leased from the Park District for, oh, let's say $10 for a hundred years. That's so although it'll occupy public land, no one else can interfere with whatever the private interests want to do with the building. Condos? Offices? Hotel? A museum honoring Donald Trump?

We'd suggest Jackson Park for the massive, sight-blocking, out of proportion  building, but  we'd be too late. The planned 235-foot-tall Obama Center monolith has first claim on gobbling acres of the historic park for its 21-story, privately run tribute to the former liberal president. 

Assuming that each story is 10-feet high, the Obama Tower of Mordor would be at least 21-stories tall. That puts it in the same league as the Auditorium Building, Old Colony Building, Carson Pirie Scott Building, Reliance Building, the Harold Washington Library and the Apparel Center, among others. (See photos below.)

Here's the kicker. In response to complaints about the center's bulkiness, the Obama Foundation came up with a slightly slimmer design. But by squeezing it together, the building increased in height to 235 feet from 178 feet.

Little attention has been paid to the overwhelming height of the center and its relationship to park and its users. It makes Herbert L. Caplan of Protect Our Parks wonder if the  architects' model and drawings were  made "to hide the  scale of the actual building in an attempt to further bamboozle the public? It would be interesting to make a graphic comparing this monolith to get a sense of what 235 feet actually looks like."

Indeed it would. Unfortunately, not until it is built and topped off will the public get a true impression of what an encroachment on Chicago's lakefront parks the Obama Center truly represents.

No other building dominating any Chicago lakefront park in the same manner would be allowed. Every environmental, lakefront protection and leftwing groups would raise hell. Dare we ask why not?

Chicago buildings of comparable height:

Obama's Tower of Mordor

Obama's Tower of Mordor

Reliance Building

Reliance Building

Carson Pirie Scott Building

Carson Pirie Scott Building

Old Colony Building

Old Colony Building

Auditorium Building

Auditorium Building

Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library

 

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