Stanley Tigerman

Summer 2009

Stanley Tigerman

Stanley Tigerman
Tigerman McCurry Architects,
Chicago, Ill.

Stanley Tigerman received both of his architectural degrees from Yale University in 1960 and 1961, but will be quick to admit that his career as an architect began well before. At age 12, Tigerman read Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," and has been hooked ever since. Now, almost 66 years later, Tigerman's work can be found in North America, Europe and even Asia. He has given more than 900 lectures throughout the world, been a visiting chaired professor at numerous universities and served on advisory committees for both Yale and Princeton's School of Architecture. Today, he and his wife, Margaret McCurry continue to practice their art in Chicago, Ill.

Below are excerpts from a conversation with Stanley Tigerman.

How do you approach your projects?

Two major thrusts of the new millennia worldwide are sustainability and social cause. They both fall under the rubric of ethics; and that's really what I think architecture is all about, ethics. You could say I approach projects in a way that will address the ethics of the particular location or situation.

Usually, when I'm asked to engage in a project, I already have a preconceived notion about what I'd like to do. However, I try and think about the specific things that are driving each project in order to come up with an out-of-the-box idea to respond to the idiosyncrasy of the project.

You say you've seen ethics evolve as a major focus of design, how so?

The end of World War II represented a huge change in society that was reflected in several different fields. Institutions that were previously reserved for the wealthy saw a great deal of diversity. No longer was the field of architecture exclusively for wealthy men; instead, architecture saw a large forthcoming of all different races and genders.

The needs of society have changed and will continue to change architecture. History has shown that building and design relies a lot on what is happening during that time. AIDS outbreaks, the rise of homelessness and the need for sustainability are all examples of external social forces that have changed the way we design and have helped bring purpose to design. An architect should be responsible and responsive to external forces, but I think architecture will always continue to change and adapt to what the world needs.

How have some of your designs reflected external social forces and climate of a particular time or region?

The Five Polytechnics Institute in Bangladesh helped equip the next generation of Bengalis with the information needed to help them harness their national resources in sustainable ways. The Internationales Bau Ausstellung (IBA) was all about the workers and a need for social housing in what used to be West Berlin. The Belgrade Apartments in Yugoslavia addressed the difficult social interactions between various ethnic groups. Here in America, the Holocaust Museum in Skokie is very ethically and socially driven as is the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

As issues of disaster relief, global warming and sustainability continue to affect the world, the field of architectural will have to adapt and respond to each need separately.

Finally, how would you describe your dream project?

I guess I'd have to quote Frank Lloyd Wright. He was once asked by a reporter what his best project was and he simply replied, "The next one." I guess the next one is how I'd describe my dream project.