This article was originally published on Common Edge.
By and large, architectural photo books hew to a paradigm: big, glossy images of big, glossy buildings, paired with minimal text, shorn of any and all polemics. Context, in this environment, can be a distraction. Fortunately, Lee Bey’s new book, Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side (Northwestern University Press), is a notable exception to this unwritten rule. It’s an intriguing hybrid: a photo book of the South Side, a neighborhood history, a mini-memoir, and a polemic about systemic racism and historic preservation in Chicago.