In news first reported by Chicago media reporter Robert Feder and widely shared by former Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, Lee Bey, former architecture critic for the Tribune’s rival, the Chicago Sun-Times, will be returning to helm a monthly architecture column in that paper’s Sunday edition.
A current member of the editorial board at the Sun-Times, Chicago-born Bey is also a noted photographer and lecturer and serves as an adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture. Featuring both Bey’s photography and writing, Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side, was published by Northwestern University Press in October 2019.
Bey covered architecture for five years at the Sun-Times before leaving the paper in 2001 to serve as deputy chief of staff for architecture and urban planning under former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. His return to the Sun-Times, not in his former role as architecture critic but as a part-time editorial writer, was reported by Feder in December 2019.
The Sun-Times names an architecture critic. https://t.co/41mqUoXZNG
— Lee Bey (@LEEBEY) March 24, 2022
As more recently reported by Feder, Steve Warmbir, the current interim editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times, relayed the news of Bey’s return to the architecture beat in an email sent to the paper’s staffers: “We’re thrilled to have Lee back writing about architecture, since there’s no one better in Chicago,” he wrote. In his email, Warmbir also announced that another Sun-Times board member, former reporter and assistant city editor Rummana Hussain, would similarly be returning to pen a monthly column.
In January of last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kamin revealed that he would be taking a buyout and leaving the Tribune after a 33-year run, 28 of those years as architecture critic. And with that, the third most populous city in the United States was left without a single full-time architecture critic—a lapse that hadn’t happened since the 1970s, as Elizabeth Blasius, former Midwest editor for AN, noted following Kamin’s departure. For the past year-plus, this absence has been acutely felt.
Although Bey’s return to architectural criticism for the Sun-Times isn’t on a full-time basis, it is being widely celebrated, including by his friend Kamin, who called the news “real progress—great for Chicago.”
This is spectacular news — at last, some movement toward more rather than less journalistic architecture criticism. This is important not just for Chicago, but for the entire field. And I know you’ll do a fantastic job. https://t.co/Bnd5pyebP0
— Paul Goldberger (@paulgoldberger) March 24, 2022
— MAS Context (@MASContext) March 24, 2022
— AIA Chicago (@AIAChicago) March 24, 2022
— Chicago Architecture Center (@chiarchitecture) March 24, 2022
In addition to news of his monthly architecture column for the Sun-Times, the last 24 hours has brought other big Bey-related news, namely the announcement that he will serve as keynote host for the AIA Conference on Architecture this June in Chicago.