Blair Kamin: Who Is the City For?: Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago

We are delighted to welcome Pulitizer Prize-winner Blair Kamin  to the store. The author, editor, and former Chicago Tribune architecture critic will be be discussing and signing copies of his acclaimed new book, Who Is the City For?: Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago. This event is free and open to the public. 

"In Kamin's masterful hand, architectural criticism is about far more than design. It is a civic project: a public conversation about politics, the public good, and the promise of urban life."-- Booklist

More About the Book: Two decades ago, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin's series "Reinventing the Lakefront" documented the stark disparities between the shoreline parks bordering the city's mostly white, affluent North Side neighborhoods and those along its largely Black, poor South Side. The series, which spurred new civic investments in the south lakefront, won a Pulitzer Prize and signaled Kamin's commitment to activist criticism. That commitment continued through his last column for the Tribune in January 2021. This book collects 55 of Kamin's columns from the past decade, organized around questions of equity that loomed over the built environment as over American society generally: Who benefits from urban development? Are new private and public buildings good citizens? Which historic buildings get saved and why? And how did the polarizing US presidents and Chicago mayors who ruled over this decade play into the larger drama of the city's public realm? Covering major new structures--from the Trump Tower sign to the Obama Presidential Center, the Riverwalk to The 606--as well as the bridges, CTA stations, hospitals, skyscrapers, and other buildings that constitute the everyday fabric of the city, the columns are illustrated with photographs by Lee Bey, former architecture critic of the Chicago Sun-Times. The epilogue, featuring Kamin's farewell column, marks the end of an era in the nation's architectural capital.

"No one can match Blair Kamin's sustained scrutiny and deep understanding of Chicago architecture over the last three decades and beyond. In this book, he succeeds splendidly in offering a new collection of his uniformly excellent, interesting, and important writings. Who Is the City For? is compelling reading for anyone interested not just in Chicago, but in significant trends--both good and bad--in contemporary architecture and city life more broadly."-- Carl Smith, author of The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City.

About the Author: Blair Kamin is the author or editor of several books, including Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago and Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age, also published by the University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic for 28 years, Kamin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1999. 


Event date: 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

The Book Stall
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
Who Is the City For?: Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago By Blair Kamin, Lee Bey (By (photographer)) Cover Image
By Blair Kamin, Lee Bey (By (photographer))
ISBN: 9780226822730
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: University of Chicago Press - November 21st, 2022

A vividly illustrated collaboration between two of Chicago’s most celebrated architecture critics casts a wise and unsparing eye on inequities in the built environment and attempts to rectify them.