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City of Chicago Defaces Crown Fountain

(Photo: Take me to your leader…and tell him to get this thing off of my head. Credit: Looper.)

There are many good places to put security cameras in Chicago’s architecturally brilliant Millennium Park. Smack on top of Jaume Plensa’s hyper-popular Crown Fountain is not one of those places.

But this winter, in its ongoing zeal to record seemingly every action occurring in Chicago’s public realm–for your own good of course–the city has planted two ugly, obvious security cams directly atop the two celebrated video sculptures on each end of the fountain.

Now, instead of Chicagoans smiling down at the kids and tourists frolicking between the two towers: seemingly grinning Martians with big, bent, skull-topping antennae.

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Who thought this was a good idea? What city planner, Millennium Park manager, or City Hall security zealot thought that defacing world-famous public sculpture for the sake of convenience was a good idea?

In the past three years, Crown Fountain has emerged as easily the most popular element of Millennium Park (apologies to the Bean), the throngs of amused Chicagoans, visitors, and most especially their children, barely letting up in the change from warm weather to cold. I’d really like to know what Mayor Daley thinks about this, or Plensa, for that matter.

Where, oh where, is Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin when you really need him?

UPDATE: December 18, 2006, 2:00 p. m.

Good Lord and Oh My. Where is Blair Kamin? Apparently, tipped off to this design travesty by an email from Devyn (Blair is practically Devyn’s hero–they met on the street last year and D. ended up quoted in an article about the development of Trump Tower and Block 37).

In the past hour, Blair emailed Devyn back, D. and I were interviewed by the Tribune, and as I type this, a Trib photographer is shooting away at Crown Fountain. Please, oh please, dear Tribune, give ’em hell.

Whoever thought a camera on top of Crown Fountain was a good idea was mistaken. Pick up your Tribs tomorrow, folks, and remember, you read it here first. 😉

(See December 19 Update: The cameras are history!!!)

Categories: Architecture News Media

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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12 replies

  1. NEW YORK TIMES Quotes Devyn Caldwell (Chicago’s “Looper”) on Crown Fountain Cameras

    (Photo: The former Millennium Park Martians go national. Credit: Looper.) It’s official. I’m no longer the only half of this relationship who’s made it into the New York Times. Today, an article appears in the Times’ National section covering…

  2. Crown Fountain Cameras KAPUT!!!

    Ah, the power of the blogosphere. As of 11:00 a.m. this morning, the City of Chicago has taken the security cameras off the top of Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain. And let me just say, WOO-HOO! Yes, folks, mere hours after…

  3. This is just another example of how the City works: spend the budget money while you have it in a somewhat aesthetically slipshod manner, then go back and reengineer the process (in this case, “Millennium Park Security”) all over again to request more money from Federal appropriations. While the idea of someone bubblecaming me in a public plaza doesn’t bother me, I am amazed that over 40% responded favorably to a Chicago Tribune online poll of those awful things. Even worse, the planners that create and monitor all things Millennium signed off on them as a “temporary fix” yet agree the bubblecam is ugly. Thanks Uhlir…class all the way.

  4. That IS very ugly, but have you noticed that those little black bubbles are now ALL over town? We can thank homeland security for them. I watched as they installed one at the corner of my street. They put it up in the dead of night.

  5. Morons. Why not just put one on top of the Bean?

    Or better yet, they can just make everyone in the city wear one on top of our heads.

  6. Really, I don’t care if they put ’em on poles around there (it is a public area) but on top of the artwork?? WTF, that is just aesthetically insulting.

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