A tie: If you’re reading this, it probably means you live in arguably the greatest city for architecture in America. Whether it’s locals like Adam Gill working in Dubai or starchitects from elsewhere working on historically significant canvases like the IIT campus, Chicago’s given the world some of its most important buildings and gotten some in return. But you probably don’t live or work in any of them. And that’s long been a beef of mine with architectural coverage: it finds a city’s aesthetic in a handful of monumental buildings that few people will ever appreciate as anything other than passersby. Which is why I’m grateful for Robert Powers’s blog A Chicago Sojourn. He’s a fine architectural photographer with an eye for the beauty of the city’s workaday architecture: subtle variations in garage door decorative patterns, the city’s rich tradition of ersatz Sullivan terra-cotta, “Onassis modern” hospital chapels, and my favorite of his obsessions, suburban midcentury architecture. I thought I was alone in finding Berwyn apartments beautiful until I discovered Powers’s blog.
Megan Cottrell, who late last year moved her blog One Story Up from the ChicagoNow network to True/Slant, is a gifted young advocacy journalist writing about public housing and social policy from the ground up—stories of the long-term, middle-aged unemployed; families facing eviction; longtime public housing residents who watched the system go from promising experiment to public policy failure. She’s tenacious and unafraid to have opinions about the things she sees and the stories she covers—a journalist and a blogger with the best attributes of both.