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Stanley Tigerman, a pillar of Chicago architecture, has died at 88

Stanley Tigerman at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in 2013. He designed the Skokie museum.
Joe Cyganowski /Sun-Times

Stanley Tigerman, an outspoken giant of Chicago architecture, has died at 88.

The Journal of the American Institute of Architects reported that he succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Monday at his Chicago home, citing his widow and business partner Margaret McCurry, who could not be reached.

“Stanley taught us that architecture was something to be passionate about, something that was worthy of debate and worthy of consideration,” architecture photography and former Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey said.

The Chicago native designed more than 450 buildings and installations. Among them were the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, the Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter in the South Loop and the modernist Boardwalk Apartments high-rise in Uptown.

Bey praised Mr. Tigerman’s decision to present the Holocaust Museum in a more industrial style, rather than in a more overtly positive tone.

“He takes this horrible period in world history, and he doesn’t wrap it up in a friendly, petal-y building,” Bey said. “The pathway he takes you through from darkness to light, it’s genius. He wanted you to know that, when you rolled up on this building, that there was something serious going on in here.”

Stanley Tigerman at his desk in 1990.
Sun-Times files

Bey also noted Mr. Tigerman’s dedication and compassion in creating the former library for the blind building near Roosevelt Road and Blue Island Avenue before the passage of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

“He has to make an accessible building, and there’s no template for it quite yet, and he nails it,” Bey said.

A graduate of Yale University, Mr. Tigerman worked for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill before starting his own firm in 1962, now known as Tigerman McCurry, where he worked with his wife and partner Margaret McCurry.

Stanley Tigerman seen here with his wife and architectural partner Margaret McCurry, also collaborators on a book.
Sun-Times files

In the 1970s, Mr. Tigerman was a founding member of “The Chicago Seven,” a group of architects who came together to protest the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-inspired style of modernist architecture that was popular at the time.

Mr. Tigerman also served as director of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture and was one of the founders of Archeworks, a self-described “design lab, educator and media outlet dedicated to using design as an agent of change in the public interest.”

And he was the author of seven books, including the children’s book “Dorothy in Dreamland,” on which his wife and partner was his collaborator.

Architect Stanley Tigerman at his office in February 2011.

In 2013, the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave Mr. Tigerman the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Speaking with the Chicago Sun-Times then, Mr. Tigerman said he was proud to have maintained his artistic integrity throughout his career.

“If I’ve had any success at all, it’s been keeping a small office,” Tigerman said. “Not growing the office. I never had great ambitions to do every building. To have a giant office. The way architects do business today is a problem. Because they have marketing directors. They’re . . . interested in money. They have to make a payroll.

“Getting big is the undoing of architects. Because then you have a bigger and bigger and bigger payroll. I think that marketing and branding are the undoing of architecture. They’re the commodification of architecture. I always thought it was an ethical pursuit and an aesthetic pursuit. I still do.”

Stanley Tigerman and his wife Margaret McCurry, the architectural team.
Sun-Times files
Stanley Tigerman in 1992 with a fantasy doll house he designed.
Sun Times files
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