An Evening with Blair and Barbara

An Evening with Blair and Barbara

Friday, September 27th, 2019


Riverside Presbyterian Church
116 Barrypoint Road
Riverside, IL

New England has had a profound but little-noticed impact on the architecture and, especially, the landscape architecture of Chicago. That impact is evident in the names of downtown skyscrapers like the Monadnock and Pittsfield Buildings; in the influence of Henry Hobson Richardson on architects Adler & Sullivan and the first Chicago School of Architecture; and in the transplantation of the idea of the New England town common to Chicago’s lakefront, a notion to which Frederick Law Olmsted gave full expression in his plans for Jackson and Washington Parks as well as Riverside. Not only did design ideas come from New England to the Chicago area, but also investments, as from the “Eastern businessmen” who formed the 1869 Riverside Improvement Company.

In this illustrated talk, Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin and former Tribune writer Barbara Mahany explore the New England-Chicago connections and their meaning for today.


Blair Kamin has been the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune since 1992. He is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his columns that included a series of articles on Chicago’s lakefront. He has lectured widely and appeared on programs ranging from ABC’s “Nightline” to WTTW-Ch. 11’s “Chicago Tonight.” Kamin has been a contributor or co-author of several books and his collected columns have been published by the University of Chicago Press. In addition to the Pulitzer, Kamin is the recipient of more than 30 awards, including two presented by the American Institute of Architects. He serves as an adjunct professor of art at North Central College and has served as a visiting critic at architecture schools including the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Barbara Mahany spent nearly three decades as a reporter and writer at the Chicago Tribune. She is now a freelance journalist and author of two collections of essays. Mahany began her professional life as a pediatric oncology nurse but changed careers and attended Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism graduating at the top of her class. As a Tribune reporter, Mahany covered stories ranging from the Iran-Contra hearings, Prince Charles’ visit to Chicago, a cross-country ride with the Truck Driver of the Year, Mother Theresa’s nuns on Chicago’s West Side, the Jeanine Nicarico murder, Jell-O wrestlers and fox hunters. Her lifestyle stories on gardening, health, family, food, books, travel and home have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, and the Orlando Sentinel, among other papers.

Kamin and Mahany met and married while both were working at the Chicago Tribune.