Chicago architecture critic to speak on Modernist architecture

Lee Bey reflects on examples of Midwest Modernism in an illustrated talk sponsored by Indiana Modern.

On May 16, Indiana Landmarks’ Indiana Modern affinity group hosts an illustrated talk by former Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey, who will speak on “A Celebration of Midwest Modernism,” at Newfields’ Toby Theater in Indianapolis.

Modernism took root near the turn of the twentieth century, when Chicago architect Louis Sullivan opined that “form ever follows function.” His successors—Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, and others—expanded and refined the idea, forming the basis of Modernism in architecture in the early-mid-twentieth century.

A Chicago native, Bey served as architecture critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1996 to 2001 and is currently a lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago, focusing on buildings and communities and the forces that shape the built environment. His highly anticipated book, Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side, is due out this fall.

As former deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard Daley from 2001 to 2004, Bey helped shape the office’s position on planning and architecture issues for the city of Chicago, including downtown development, lakefront protection, and preservation. An architecture photographer, Bey will include in his talk compelling images of Modernist buildings in the Midwest, including St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Gary, the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair homes at Indiana Dunes National Park, and Modernist standouts in Columbus, Indiana.

Prior to Bey’s talk, Indiana Landmarks will present its annual central Indiana preservation awards. The talk will be followed by a brief Q&A session with Bey. The following Saturday, May 18, Indiana Landmarks will host a tour of Mid-Century Modern homes in Columbus, Indiana.

Thanks to support from the Cornelius O’Brien Lecture Series Concerning Historic Preservation, the talk is free and open to the public.

WHAT: “A Celebration of Midwest Modernism” illustrated talk by Lee Bey

WHEN: May 16, 6-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Toby Theater at Newfields, 4000 N. Michigan Rd., Indianapolis

COST: Free, but registration required

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MEDIA CONTACT: Mindi Woolman, Communications Manager, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534,


Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to our heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit

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