By Craig Dellimore

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined to say Wednesday whether he liked the proposed design of filmmaker George Lucas’ lakefront museum.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the mayor obviously has seen the futuristic curving design for the 400,000-square foot Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, designed by architect Ma Yansong.

When asked if he likes the design, Emanuel spoke instead about the museum’s benefits for Chicago.

“I’m glad that the museum will be built here, not in San Francisco. It will add to the educational, cultural, and economic strength of the city,” he said.

When pressed, the mayor stressed the drawings seen so far are only a concept design.

“It is a bold piece. There’s a lot of architects that like it. Other people will express their view, but this is the beginning of that iterative process,” he said.

Not surprisingly, many others have said the Lucas museum looks like something out of his “Star Wars” movies.

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin has likened the design to a mountain topped by a flying saucer. Ald Bob Fioretti (2nd), who is running against Emanuel in next year’s election, said the design looks like Jabba the Hutt’s palace, while Ald. Will Burns (4th), in whose ward the museum would be located, was more tactful, calling the design “striking.”

Cassandra Francis, head of the open space advocacy group Friends of the Parks, has called it an “amorphous, land-eating colossus.” The group already had threatened to sue to block the museum, saying it would violate the city’s lakefront protection ordinance.

Zurich Esposito, executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects, told the Sun-Times the design is “ambitious and provocative,” and though he expects it to evolve before it’s built, he hopes it “remains intact in a form as ambitious as it currently is.”

But does Emanuel like it?

“I think it’s bold,” he said.

Regardless of whether Yansong’s design is later changed, any design for the museum must be approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and the City Council.

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