Twenty-one months after it first announced its intention to embark on a huge renovation project, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago finally has permission to do so.
During Thanksgiving Week, the city approved a permit for the organization to start its $16 million retrofit:
INTERIOR ALTERATIONS TO 1ST, 2ND & 3RD FLOORS FOR NEW 1ST FLOOR RESTAURANT AND 2ND & 3RD FLOOR COMMON AREAS FOR EXISTING MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART AS PER PLANS **CERTIFIED CORRECTIONS- – SUBJECT TO FIELD INSPECTIONS & AUDIT **
The New York Times did a nice piece on it, though it didn’t understand that what’s coming to 220 East Chicago Avenue isn’t a new project, just the green light for a project announced in early 2015. And since 90% of America’s blogs are just people re-writing New York Times articles, the art world’s web sites are currently busy filling up with fawning articles parroting the Times take on the situation. Journalistic comedy. Or tragedy. Take your pick.
What’s important to locals is that the MCA is going to have a new restaurant that you can get to from the outside, so if you’ve already seen the exhibits, or don’t like what you’ve seen, you can still support the museum’s mission by having something to eat. This used to be a neighborhood full of exclusive little nosheries, so this will be a nice addition to the few that remain.
The New York Times reports that the architects involved are Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee in Los Angeles. The local is Enrique Suarez of San Francisco’s Harley Ellis Devereaux. He’s the one who did the 41st-floor Sky Lounge in the Kemper Building, and also Garrett Popcorn’s corporate headquarters.
There will also be a mural by Chris Ofili. If you’re not much on art, this is a big deal. The Times quoted museum director Madeleine Grynsztejn as saying, “Really, the entire restaurant is his commission. He will have a hand in all surfaces, from the patterning of the leather banquettes to the glass of the dining room doors. And the mural will be the basis for the palette of the rest of the restaurant.”
The project is expected to be complete by June.