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Stanley Tigerman (b. 1930) - 1998 interview

Dates of Interview:

August 10, 11, 13, and 14, 1998

Location of Interview:

Tigerman's office in Chicago


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

273 pages
View Online

2003 interview:

View biography / View transcript and video excerpt

Photograph courtesy of Stanley Tigerman.

Biographical Summary

Stanley Tigerman was born in 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. From 1949 until 1959 he worked in several architectural offices such as the office of Keck & Keck, Milton Schwartz, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and for builder A.J. Del Bianco. Tigerman was admitted to Yale University and received his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1960 and 1961. After graduating he worked in the office of Harry Weese before co-founding an office with Norman Koglin in 1962. In 1964 Tigerman opened Stanley Tigerman, Architect (now Tigerman McCurry, Architects). In addition to designing and building, Tigerman has taught for many years at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and in 1994 became co-founder and director of Archeworks, an alternative design school. Tigerman's work has been widely published and has been the recipient of numerous design awards. He is the author of several books and has been the subject of many. In the 1970s he was one of the four original Chicago Seven, a group of young architects that helped change the prevailing Miesian vocabulary in Chicago. Tigerman was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1973.

Interview Highlights

Tigerman speaks about his family and early background; how he was admitted to Yale University and the influence of Paul Rudolph; work for Keck & Keck, where he met Robert Bruce Tague; military service in the Navy; work and colleagues at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; co-founding Tigerman & Koglin; projects with social concerns; John Entenza; anti-semitism and architecture; his work in Pakistan; why and how he resigned the commission in Pakistan; stylistic influences; relationship between writing and building; activities of the Chicago Seven; teaching at UIC, Archeworks; the American Institute of Architects; opinions and reflections.

Townhouse, "Exquisite Corpse" exhibition, Walter Kelley Gallery, Chicago, 1977.

Daisy House, Porter, Indiana, 1975-1978.
Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Interview Excerpt

"All these huge things that were going on in the late sixties in America alone were wild. They were wild…In the late sixties, I started getting involved in Bangladesh, which carried through to 1971…In the sixties, I was also opening up these clinics, forensic clinics in black neighborhoods…It seemed to mean something to be involved. After all, I had been in the navy much earlier, in the Korean War…This argumentative attitude, I realize, stands outside the mainstream zeitgeist theory of architecture…And even then, which is interesting, [it was] about morality and ethics, that's what Archeworks is all about…None of these thoughts make me heroic…It's just that I was aware of it. I was conscious of a lot of forces outside, and somehow I allowed them to impact on me, or get myself involved…because I've always believed, without stating it, that the morality of this implies that an architect molds his epoch, rather than reflects it, right?…First of all, in 1976—we began in 1975—was the Chicago Seven and that first book about Chicago architecture. How did that come about?…[It was] as a resistance to that single overriding goddamned thing, the Miesian thing. I love Mies, but it was about the descendants…So we evolved to make a way for another move in Chicago." (pp. 135-136)

Additional Resources

Finding Aid to Stanley Tigerman Papers, 1941-1993
Stanley Tigerman images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives
Works by or related to Tigerman in the Department of Architecture and Design

Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.