Stanley Tigerman in 2007
Tigerman was born to a Jewish family, the only child of a day laborer father and a mother who worked as a typist for the federal government. He grew up in his paternal grandparents' boardinghouse in Edgewater, Chicago. He won the 'beautiful baby' contest at the world's fair in 1933 and attended Senn High School where he studied jazz. He studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but flunked out after one year. However, he was able to get a job as an apprentice for Chicago architect George Fred Keck, a friend of the dean of MIT. After a year, he left to start his own practice which failed and he then joined the U.S. Navy. After which he returned to Chicago and worked for two years for A.J. Del Bianco doing suburban architecture; then with Milton Schwartz on the Executive House; and then as junior designer for Skidmore Owings & Merrill on the Air Force Academy. He graduated from the Yale School of Architecture in 1961. Since 1964 he has been the Principal of Stanley Tigerman and Associates Ltd. (now Tigerman McCurry Architects), in Chicago. He has also taught at several universities in the United States. A collection of his papers is held by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries in the Art Institute of Chicago.
During his early career, Tigerman borrowed extensively from an eclectic blend of styles. In 1976 he was the central figure of the Chicago Seven, a group which emerged in opposition to the doctrinal application of modernism, as represented particularly in Chicago by the followers of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
In later years, Tigerman's diverse design style progressively assumed more sensual and dramatic qualities. Tigerman's early skill with curves and perspective expanded to include organic shapes, bright color, topiary, and allegory. Since the days of his early eclectic stylings, Tigerman has developed into an idiosyncratic theorist.
Tigerman's architectural achievements include the designs for institutional projects such as The Five Polytechnic Institutes in Bangladesh, The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois, the Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Springfield, Illinois, and POWERHOUSE Energy Museum in Zion, Illinois. Tigerman has designed both mixed use high-rise and low-rise housing throughout the United States, and in Germany and Japan. He has designed exhibition installations for museums in the United States, Portugal and Puerto Rico. He worked in Bangladesh with Louis I Kahn and Muzharul Islam. His broad ranging collaborations include projects such as The Chicago Central Area Plan, 1992 Chicago World's Fair, and London's Kings' Cross and St. Pancras High Density Mixed Use Urban Plan. Tigerman is credited with over 390 projects, and over 175 built works, representing almost every building type.
Tigerman designed the residential apartment building originally named as Boardwalk Apartments, located at the southeast corner of Montrose and Clarendon Avenues, completed in 1974.
Tigerman is the former director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 1994, Tigerman and the designer Eva L. Maddox co-founded Archeworks, a nonprofit organization in Chicago.
In May 2017, Tigerman closed his Chicago office and announced that he was retiring from active practice, but that his wife, Margaret McCurry, would carry on the work of the firm, Tigerman McCurry Architects.