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George Lucas' museum reveals renderings for buildings—but hasn't committed to L.A. or S.F.

Brittany Martin

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, filmmaker George Lucas’ new home for his extensive personal collection of art and objects, has released initial renderings of how the futuristic building would look on it’s proposed site in South L.A.—but they also released plans for a building in San Francisco. Because, it turns out, while they’re ready to show off the design, they’re not quite ready to announce where that design is actually going to go

Having architect Ma Yansong go through the effort of working out plans for both prospective buildings and releasing them to the public before the location is confirmed is a pretty unusual and bold move. L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne calls it, “the architectural equivalent of quite publicly asking two people to prom on the same day.”

It may be a sign that George Lucas himself is getting antsy about sealing the deal. The project has been kicked around for years and has already gone through numerous evolutions. For a time, it seemed the museum would be going to Chicago, but civic groups pushed back vigorously until that plan ended up being abandoned. Then there was the campaign for a San Francisco site, first at Crissy Field—until the Presidio Trust and other activists nixed that one—and now on Treasure Island. 

Proposed building for Treasure Island, San Francisco
Image: Courtesy Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Mayor Eric Garcetti threw in a bid to bring the project to L.A., suggesting a plot of land near USC (Lucas' own alma mater) and Exposition Park. With Lucas’ Hollywood connections and extensive collection of film-related art and objects, it seemed to some like it might be a fit, though it remains to be seen if the Expo Park board and nearby neighborhood organizations will agree.

Both of Los Angeles-based Ma Yansong’s building designs share undulating curves clad in metal (kind of suggestive of spaceships or wispy clouds), featuring raised up portions with pedestrian areas below. On Treasure Island, the building looks out to the San Francisco Bay and would fit in stylistically with the modern re-do already in progress on the island. In Exposition Park, the building would certainly stand out amid the more 20th-century buildings close by. 

Then again, if neither plan ends up working out, Lucas could always take up another mayor on his offer and pack up for Youngstown, Ohio.

Proposed design for Lucas Museum in Exposition Park, from above
Image: Courtesy Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

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