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Lee Bey

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Information about Lee Bey

Profile image of Lee Bey

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Architecture Critic

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pizza (Deep Dish)
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Michigan
Favorite Quote:
Read It Like You Hate Me.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1965
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Architecture Critic

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pizza (Deep Dish)
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Michigan
Favorite Quote:
Read It Like You Hate Me.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1965
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Lee Bey is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

African American writer and architectural critic Lee Bey was born on October 20, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois. Bey attended Lindbloom Technical High School. When Bey was fifteen years old, his father passed away. This became a turning point in his life, and he eventually transferred to Chicago Vocational School where he prepared for a career as a printing press operator. Motivated by a teacher’s compliment about his writing, Bey decided to become a journalist.

Bey attended Chicago State University, where he worked under academic advisor Donda West and poet, author and Third World Press publisher, Haki Madhubuti. He then transferred to Columbia College’s journalism department. After graduation, Bey began his professional career as a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago. He moved on to the Daily Southtown in 1990, and two years later became a general assignment reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. By 1997, Bey had become one of Chicago’s foremost architectural critics alongside the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, writing about issues of architecture and urban planning in his weekly column for the Sun-Times. He held this position until 2001, when he was selected as Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Design for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Under Daley, Bey became involved in a variety of issues that ranged from housing developments to architectural preservation.

Bey is an outspoken advocate of “new urbanism,” the style of metropolitan development that favors integrated commercial and residential buildings, a grid-style layout, and a friendly, inviting design. Bey has also written regularly about various historical Chicago architectural sites on his website, www.leebey.com. He has presented before the American Institute of Architects, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Historical Society, and appeared on television programs including Chicago Tonight and Fox News Chicago. He has written for various architectural publications, including Dwell and Architectural Record, has contributed to Chicago Architecture: History, Revisions, Alternatives, Visionary Chicago Architecture and 20th Century Chicago: 100 Years, 100 Voices.

Bey stepped down as Director of Media and Government Affairs for the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on December 29, 2006 to pursue personal interests like completing his book, doing some consulting and working on photography and writing assignments. On August 1, 2007, Bey became the first African American Executive Director of the Chicago Central Area Committee, an influential, fifty-year-old civic organization composed of about seventy-five of Chicago’s most prominent downtown businessmen who are concerned with the architecture, urban planning, transportation and economic viability of the Loop. He also teaches an architecture and politics class at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Bey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 24, 2006.

See how Lee Bey is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lee Bey's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lee Bey lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lee Bey describes his childhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lee Bey describes his parents' childhoods
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lee Bey describes his maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lee Bey describes his paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lee Bey describes his education in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lee Bey remembers the death of his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lee Bey recalls transferring to Chicago Vocational High School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lee Bey remembers his introduction to journalism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lee Bey remembers attending Chicago State University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lee Bey describes the sights and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lee Bey remembers admiring the architecture of Chicago with his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lee Bey describes the impact of his father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lee Bey describes his mother's occupation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lee Bey recalls his sense of responsibility upon his father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lee Bey remembers his admiration of Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lee Bey recalls racist propaganda against Harold Washington
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lee Bey remembers Harold Washington speaking at his high school graduation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lee Bey remembers his college newspaper advisor, Donda West
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lee Bey remembers his decision to transfer to Columbia College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lee Bey describes his mentors in college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lee Bey remembers working at City News Bureau of Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lee Bey describes the history of the City News Bureau of Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lee Bey describes what he learned at the City News Bureau of Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lee Bey recalls his progression at the City News Bureau of Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lee Bey remembers his internship at the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lee Bey recalls how he joined the staff of the Southtown Economist newspaper
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lee Bey remembers meeting his wife, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lee Bey remembers meeting his wife, pt.2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lee Bey reflects upon the aftermath of Harold Washington's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lee Bey remembers his return to the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lee Bey recalls learning of the statutory rape accusations against Mel Reynolds
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lee Bey talks about being limited as an African American in the newsroom
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lee Bey remembers investigating Mel Reynolds' statutory rape allegations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lee Bey remembers covering the murder of James Jordan, Sr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lee Bey describes the trial of Mel Reynolds
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lee Bey describes the emotional impact of the Mel Reynolds story
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lee Bey remembers becoming the Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lee Bey recalls being chosen as an editorial columnist because of his race
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lee Bey remembers writing about Girl X in Cabrini-Green Homes
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lee Bey explains the issues of race he hoped to reveal by reporting on Girl X
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lee Bey describes his emotional response to writing about child abuse
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lee Bey explains why he started writing about architecture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Lee Bey's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lee Bey describes how he transitioned to writing solely about architecture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lee Bey recalls being honored for his series on Chicago's Pullman Historic District
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lee Bey explains how his column differed from those of other architectural critics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lee Bey recalls being the first African American architectural critic
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lee Bey remembers how his column was embraced by the black community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lee Bey talks about the role of architecture in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lee Bey explains the historic significance of the Pilgrim Baptist Church
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lee Bey compares Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church and Pilgrim Baptist Church
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lee Bey recalls the fate of Chicago's African American architectural landmarks
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lee Bey explains why preserving African American architecture is important
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lee Bey remembers being asked to work for Mayor Richard M. Daley
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lee Bey reflects upon his decision to work for Mayor Richard M. Daley
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lee Bey remembers directing the renovation of Chicago's Soldier Field
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lee Bey remembers public reactions to the Soldier Field renovations
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Lee Bey reflects upon the results of the Soldier Field renovations
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lee Bey remembers saving the Metropolitan Community Church building, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lee Bey remembers saving the Metropolitan Community Church building, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lee Bey remembers joining the staff of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lee Bey describes the benefits of working at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lee Bey talks about his interest in photography
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lee Bey talks about teaching architecture at University of Illinois at Chicago Circle
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Lee Bey describes the need for greater diversity in the architecture industry
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Lee Bey considers the characteristics of African American architecture
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Lee Bey describes potential projects for African American landscape architects
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Lee Bey describes his book, 'The Paper Skyline'
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Lee Bey talks about the design of Chicago public housing projects
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Lee Bey talks about New Urbanism
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Lee Bey describes urban planning in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Lee Bey reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Lee Bey describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Lee Bey reflects upon his legacy