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Supporting Small Businesses and Commercial Corridors to Reopen through Design (Response to COVID-19)

City Open Workshop and our partners have witnessed our City's small businesses and neighborhood corridors struggle with the impact of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of their ability to re-open. As a community-led group of designers and policy professionals, during the Summer of 2020, we are committing our organizing capacity, network, and resources to re-imagining open and outdoor spaces for expanded entertainment, convening and business uses.

Below is a resource guide to some of our initiatives and relevant partners for the Summer. However, over time, we believe this exploratory effort this Summer will evolve into more innovative ways to use streets, plazas, sidewalks and parks for more flexible and equitable cities. 

Image above: Maison Marcel on Broadway, Elle Ramel


February Restaurant Office Hours

City Open Workshop in partnership with the Illinois Restaurant Association will be offering office hours after the partnered webinar on February 11th at 10 AM for restaurants thinking about how to leverage outdoor space both this winter and for the upcoming spring and summer. 


The office hours will be hosted:


February 15th @ 10:00 AM

February 17th @ 4:30   PM


Register on Eventbrite here. A ZOOM link will be sent 24 hours before the office hours.


Resource Guide to Restaurant Reopening

City Open Workshop brought together participating designers (see Designer Directory below) in Illinois Restaurant Association office hours as they worked to answer questions for local restaurants each week. This group ultimately coalesced into the core team members that agreed on the need to create a restaurant resource guide for re-opening for restaurants and chambers of commerce as a pattern of similar questions emerged week to week. 


The group created responses and links to commonly answered questions and also elevated issues that required images or infographics to better understand how to set up a tent, sidewalk cafe permitting and parklets for example. Each firm worked on creating images that can be seen in the final guide.


Our work and final guides (English and Spanish) can be dowloaded from the project page.

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Designer Directory

In partnership with the Illinois Restaurant Association, City Open Workshop is inviting interested designers to register with the linked designer directory for firms or individuals interested in pro-bono consultations 


*Indicated design groups and individuals below are available to continue being resources during the Fall and Winter.


Aria Architects* (Fall / Winter)
Lis Battle 
Phone: (312) 804-2401

Civic Projects* (Fall / Winter)
Monica Chadha
Phone: (312) 217 1570


DLR Group* (Fall / Winter)
Marina Berrones
Phone: (312) 780-1018

Ian Miley* (Fall / Winter)
Phone: (405) 898-7538

Integro Rehab LLC* (Fall/Winter)

Allyson Case Anderson

Phone: (312) 213-6321

Latent Design* (Fall / Winter)
Katherine Darnstadt
Phone: (312) 344-1498

O'Kelly Kasprak* (Fall/Winter)
Belinda O'Kelly
Phone: (312) 962-5977 


Ratio*  (Fall / Winter)

Eli Lechter
Phone: (312) 763-7203 

Sam Schwartz* (Fall/Winter)
Stacey Meekins
Phone: (312) 736-2547

SmithGroup* (Fall / Winter)
Brett Weidl
Phone: (312) 586-4748 

Wyzendale* (Fall / Winter)
Mark Lawrence

Phone: (312) 723-0480

Advisory services will consist of conditions assessment, DOB guideline review, permit navigation and concept design. Actual permitting and stamped drawings would involve a more formalized engagement with a design firm. 

City Open Workshop is merely facilitating connections and engagement between the listed architecture practices and business owners.  The services relationship and agreements between parties will be directly agreed among them, and City Open does have is not responsible for the design advice and services provided, nor can guarantee any provision of services.

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