In Memory of Lew Manilow - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In Memory of Lew Manilow

Visionary lawyer and developer breathed life into downtown Chicago

Image courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

Lew Manilow championed a better Chicago, and the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) benefited from his commitment as he served as a Board Member from 1982 to 1994 and then transitioned to MPC’s Resource Board, on which he served until 2005. 

During his tenure at MPC, Mr. Manilow served as Chair of the Urban Development Committee which weighed in on major downtown development projects in an era of many now-signature buildings being added to Chicago’s architectural fabric. He corralled a committee with such well-known Chicago architects as Harry Weese, Bill Brubaker and Larry Booth to come up with key inputs to developers and the City to give the downtown better buildings and streetscape. 

Under his leadership, MPC championed the revival of the North Loop. With his well-known passion and support of Chicago’s arts community, he combined his real estate expertise with his passion and envisioned Chicago’s north Loop theater district, transforming underused land into today's thriving cultural destination.

“Mr. Manilow was a visionary and saw the tremendous entertainment and arts potential for the north Loop area,” said MarySue Barrett, President of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “As both an urban planning advocate and an avid arts patron, I see firsthand the impact he’s made to revive and transform our downtown into a vibrant area seven days a week.  

Fellow committee member and current MPC Board Member James Mann recalls, “Like any good leader, Lew held strong views, and he was sure to make them known. But at the end of the day, what he wanted most was action. Equal parts visionary and ‘doer, Lew worked hand-in-hand with committee members, MPC and the city to make real change.”

Mr. Manilow’s life was celebrated at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on January 15th at a memorial service honoring his life and the contributions he made to Chicago. To learn more about Mr. Manilow’s impact, visit the Chicago Tribune's, the Chicago Sun-Times' and Crain's Chicago Business' coverage. 


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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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