The sketches of Star Wars creator George Lucas’ Chicago museum show a flowing white building topped with a hovering ring. The newly unveiled architectural designs for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art were drawing a range of reaction on Wednesday, from snide comments to forthright admiration.

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“It looks like a palace for Jabba the Hutt. I was wondering what planet we are on,” Chicago alderman Bob Fioretti, who’s challenging Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the mayor’s race next year, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Online design site Co.Design was more generous, comparing the architectural concept to “an Egyptian pyramid reimagined for the year 2020”.

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The Beijing-based principal designer, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, released the first sketches Tuesday. The seven-story museum will be located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Lake Michigan. It’s expected to cost about $400m. Ma has said it is the most important project of his career to date.

“Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, the design integrates the natural beauty of the park and Lake Michigan with the powerful man-made architecture of Chicago,” MAD Architects said in a statement on the firm’s website.

When Lucas announced the design team in July, he called them “some of the top architects in the world”.

“I am thrilled with the architectural team’s vision for the building and the surrounding green space. I look forward to presenting our design to the Chicago community,” Lucas said in the 28 July statement.

Chicago-based Studio Gang is doing the landscape design, including a bridge to connect the museum with Northerly Island. Chicago-based VOA Associates is leading the implementation of the design.

Ma’s previous work includes Absolute Towers in Ontario, Canada; the Ordos Museum in Ordos, China; and Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing, China.