Blair Kamin, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, offers his thoughts about the building and design accomplishments of Mayor Daley.
Indeed, Daley’s long tenure–and his unchallenged grip on power–allowed him to take urban design risks that other mayors, nervously contemplating the next election, would be too timid to try.
That boldness is reflected in the long and generally distinguished litany of public works carried out under Daley. The list is surely highlighted by his greatest triumph, Millennium Park (above, Daley, in sunglasses, touring the park when it opened in 2004), which turned an eyesore of exposed commuter rail lines at the foot of Michigan Avenue into a showcase of contemporary art and architecture.
The link between political power and the ability to promote/push for riskier projects is a good insight. Many public and private projects get caught up in local controversies and without powerful politicians who are sure of their jobs, such controversies can derail many a project. While Kamin later acknowledges that Daley made his share of mistakes, his building legacy is fairly impressive.