On November 10, 2016 Friends of Downtown Chicago presented its annual “Best of Downtown” awards in an event that celebrated individuals and companies that have had a significant impact on the livability and beauty of downtown Chicago. Leading architecture, planning, policy and business people joined together at the Cliff Dwellers Club on Michigan Avenue to recognize the achievements of a diverse group of honorees.
For 2016, Friends of Downtown Chicago revived its tradition of bestowing a life time achievement award, which is named after Mary Ward Wolkonsky. Wolkonsky was a legendary Chicago civic leader who, when she passed away at age 94 in 2002, was widely eulogized for her tireless devotion to Chicago and to the advancement of women in society. This year’s winner was Blair Kamin, the longtime architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale University School of Architecture, Kamin has also been a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. The University of Chicago Press has published two collections of Kamin's columns: "Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago" and "Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age.” Kamin has received numerous awards, including the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which he received for a body of work highlighted by a series of articles about the problems and promise of Chicago's greatest public space, its lakefront.
Other awards for 2016 honored the individuals and teams behind some of Chicago’s most exciting new developments, including the Chicago Riverwalk, Maggie Daley Park, Wabash Street Arts Corridor and the Chicago Architectural Biennial 2015.
The full list of projects and awards is:
Mary Ward Wolkonsky Lifetime Achievement Award - Blair Kamin
Best Plan - Fulton Market Innovation District Plan
Best Project Implementation - Chicago Riverwalk
Best Renovation or Adaptive Reuse - Chicago Athletic Association Hotel
Best Continued Use - Glessner House
Best Open Space - Maggie Daley Park
Best Program - Chicago Architectural Biennial 2015
Best Streetscape - Wabash Street Arts Corridor
Best Ephemera - Activate
Coolest Thing - Statue Stories Chicago
Commitment to Downtown - Daley Plaza Farmers Market
Welcome to Downtown - SRAM and Kimpton Gray Hotel