Blair Kamin has been the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic since 1992. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale University School of Architecture, he has also been a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. The University of Chicago Press has published two collections of Kamin's columns: "Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago" and "Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age.” Kamin is the recipient of 35 awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he received in 1999 for a body of work highlighted by a series of articles about the problems and promise of Chicago's greatest public space, its lakefront.
A wreck no more: million renovation makes Illinois’ once-decrepit Executive Mansion shine again
Illinois, your house has been put back in order. Not your political house, already in the midst of an ugly gubernatorial campaign. We're talking about the Executive Mansion, the “People’s House,” which will reopen to the public July 14 after a million renovation that has simultaneously modernized...
At 151 North Franklin, less is a bore, but the high-rise's bottom is tops
You know something’s wrong when an architect looks at his building and bluntly tells you: “We did not design that box.” The architect, Chicago’s John Ronan, has won acclaim for such subtly elegant works of modernism as the Poetry Foundation headquarters in River North. His latest design, 151 North...
Chicago Architecture Foundation to open new center Aug. 31; city seeks architects for O'Hare expansion
The Chicago Architecture Foundation will open its new architecture center, including an exhibition that features large-scale models of skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world, on Aug. 31, the organization will announce Tuesday. Located in the base of the 111 E. Wacker Drive office building,...
A less-is-more restoration of a Mies house expands our view of a little-known episode in the famed architect's career
Call it a case of addition by subtraction. Or, as the architect himself might have said, less is more. The architect, the late Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was a towering figure whose meticulously detailed cages of steel and glass redefined both the structural underpinnings of post-World War II architecture...
Gateway Arch transformed: New landscape, expanded museum better link the icon to St. Louis
Fusing the traditional form of an arch with the modern materials of steel and concrete, the Gateway Arch doesn’t just pay tribute to America’s westward expansion. The glistening, gravity-defying landmark is a symbol of St. Louis, visible in everything from TV news backdrops to travel posters. In...
A farewell to Tribune Tower and a shout-out to its architects
Deadlines focus the eye as well as the mind. As Chicago Tribune journalists prepare to leave Tribune Tower on Friday, I find my eyes roaming over the tower’s flamboyant neo-Gothic silhouette and its innumerable alluring details, like a sculpture of a wise old owl who clutches a camera and symbolizes...
A small win for preserving the past: General Assembly backs an expansion of state tax credit
Want to save a historic building? There’s the old way — the shame game: Take to the streets, carry picket signs and rail against City Hall and developers. But preservationists discovered long ago that carrots are just as valuable as sticks. Their best carrot has been the federal historic preservation...
Chicago in Venice: A first look at the U.S. pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale
Watch out, Donald Trump! When this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale opens Saturday, the U.S. pavilion, shaped for the first time by Chicagoans, takes aim at the “us” and “them” mentality behind the president’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico. And its exhibits lob other intellectual...