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MCA roof looks like an industrial zone, nearby residents say. /Photo by Shia Kapos 8

Is MCA’s rooftop solution worse than the problem?

May 25th, 2017

The residents on East Pearson Street are fuming.

If you’ve been following my column, you know they’re worried about property values being affected by development plans of the Museum of Contemporary Art across the street.

The MCA is adding a big restaurant to its main floor–but that’s not the real problem, say residents. It’s the restaurant’s ugly equipment on the roof that has them upset. It’s in full view of MCA’s high-rise neighbors. (Get more details here about the sights and smells that have them sick with worry.)

Condo Board president Jay Doherty, a notable name on Chicagao’s civic scene, recently sent a letter to the MCA calling the equipment on the roof “a hideous and value-decreasing blight on our living enviorment and our material assets.”

The museum says it’s now offering a plan to cover the unsightly HVAC and other mechanicals.

Will it be enough to appease residents? One observer says “the solution is worse than the problem.”

The MCA didn’t return a request to comment but it’s called a last-minute meeting to discuss the issue. It’s today, May 25, at the inopportune time of 4 p.m.

Stay tuned.

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8 Responses to Is MCA’s rooftop solution worse than the problem?

  1. Shireen Ahmad says:

    It is clear that the MCA does not believe that they are part of the neighborhood, or else they would not have chosen to add this hideous equipment on their roof top along with all their cell phone towers. For a group that claims to be aesthetically inclined not to consider the impact on the neighbors views from their apartments is outrageous. This is now compounded by their attitude when it has been pointed out to them. The wall of greenery that they are proposing looks totally out of place and looks like it will blow away in the Chicago wind! Besides, it will be bare during the 8 months of Chicago’s winter and will look worse than any border wall Trump may build!!
    They have lost many supporters in the neighborhood and their friends over this careless decision and they are not going to win them back in the near future.

  2. BC says:

    Shame on MCA! They have debased their mission, shamed their architectural legacy, and undermined the property values of the very people that welcomed them to the community back in the 90’s! They need to make things right for the community and clear up the unbelievable blight they have created. Otherwise, their soon-to-open Marisol restaurant will never succeed if they open to a hostile neighborhood!

  3. Gary Beckman says:

    When first designed the Museum of Contemporary Art was proud to have a Five sided building, the roof being one side. This design was to allow the high rise condo buildings and others to have a pleasant view of a roof top. That was 20 years ago and today we have 12 cell phone towers, vent duct encircling 75 percent of the building, several kitchen exhaust fans, And now 5 A/C units several additional fans and more to come.

    The current directors believe it is no big deal and care less and are careless about how much junk they have already placed on the roof and how much more there is to come. They placed this mechanical equipment on the roof before anyone knew about it and then said, “sorry, it is to late now”. Based on their original plan, The City of Chicago gave them this property for 100 years at $1 per year.

    Approximately 1800 condo owners have this unsightly mess to look at every day. This mess influences our property values and our quality of living.

    Anything anyone can do would be greatly appreciated.

    PS. It is far worse than the photos have revealed. These photos above are what we see outside of our living room windows.l

  4. BC says:

    Agree, Mr. Beckman! The photos above make it seem as if the industrial junkyard view is far, far off on the horizon, when in reality this blight is just a stones throw away from some of our living rooms! It is a horrible blight, yet MCA stands firm against moving all this equipment off the roof. No museum that I know of would do this to the community and to their own architectural heritage. MCA is a horrible steward of the property they got from the city for $1.00 a year! Chicago should be outraged!

  5. Frank Cochrane says:

    Not in my backyard-Ask anyone in involved in this decision if it directly affected them, their neighborhood, their home, their family, all assets in our lives. The lack of forthright information from MCA from what is supposed to be the crown jewel of contemporary art in Chicago is autocratic and dangerous. The exterior promise(vision)of a 5 sided structure to the community of roof and walls was to be in keeping with a museum complex is now piece by piece melting. The restaurant has become the control entity.

    Please contact your Alderman. This process continues to be intellectually dishonest in every respect.

  6. Frank Cochrane says:

    Simply, the MCA is attempting to operate outside the 4 corners of what was told, sold, agreed or promised to Chicagoans, Streeterville and the Pearson Street community. Originally, this was a “5 sided” commitment to be in keeping with the MCA’s mission as a museum. Now a scant time later, a restaurant appears to be the MCA braintrust’s Hail Mary pass to provoke interest in it’s product. Think about it. How many times when you visit museum do you think..I’m going to go there because it has a restaurant.

    In Chicago there are 200 art galleries and 7,300 restaurants. Now the MCA wants to expand it’s facility by encroaching the very air we breath, take one side of the 5 sides promise and turn it into ventilation wasteland all on the backs of the community of Pearson Street.

    I urge you to contact Alderman Brian Hopkins office to voice your concerns immediately. Mr Hopkins is now dialed into this issue. Time is of the essence.

  7. BC says:

    Yes, Frank! For anyone unsure of what is meant by 5-sided design: when the MCA sought approval from the community and the City of Chicago, back in the 90′– to lease the park land that the MCA sits on—all for $1.00 per year–the MCA planners promised that the roof would be of equal architectural importance to the four perimeter facades. Thus, 5-sided design! This is because they knew high-rise condos would be looking down on the roof and to get approval, MCA would have to take the roof into account. Click forward to 2017–as Frank Cochrane points out, the roof now looks like an industrial dump site–littered with cell towers, enormous ventilators and fans and other metal towers–painful for homeowners to look at, and disastrous to our property values and quality of life. YES–call your Alderman to complain!

  8. BC says:

    Also see what MCA did to Lake Shore Park when they set up a huge tent for their 50th anniversary gala this past weekend. The park was destroyed, absolutely ruined, and now must be re-landscaped with tax payer funds! Why was MCA not ordered to pay restitution for all the damage they did? This is not fair to the people of Chicago who DO pay taxes, unlike the MCA!

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