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: Broadway in Lakeview allows more than 30 restaurants to expand patio seating into the street (June 15, 2020).


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.


The final guide is available for download as PDF here:

This guide can also be printed and displayed at local chambers if there is interest and the need. 

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 in June, July and early August:

Aria Architects
Joe Vajda
Phone: (708) 445- 8400

Booth Hansen
Mark Pomarico
Phone: (239) 565-4236

Civic Projects
Monica Chadha
Phone: (312) 217 1570

Collabo Planning + Design
Adam Rosa
Phone: (312) 442-2004

DLR Group
Marina Berrones
Phone: (312) 780-1018

Integro Rehab LLC

Allyson Case Anderson

Phone: (312) 213-6321

Latent Design
Katherine Darnstadt
Phone: (773) 715 7041

O'Kelly Kasprak
Belinda O'Kelly
Phone: (312) 962-5977 

Raino Architecture Office

Ryan Arnaudov

Phone: (773) 621-8659


Eli Lechter
Phone: (312) 763-7203 

Sam Schwartz
Stacey Meekins
Phone: (312) 736-2547

Brett Weidl
Phone: (312) 586-4748 

Teska Associates
Heather Faivre
Phone: (847) 563-9731 

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.

Small Business Office Hours

City Open Workshop will offer Wednesday office hours @6 PM in June and July for small businesses with questions around design, regulation and implementation of expanded outdoor seating and service. Please refer to the calendar for those dates and sign-ups. Please also e-mail with relevant questions. 

Open Living Working Group

In partnership with Latent Design, there will be a smaller working group of designers and policy professionals examining the proposed CDOT pilot corridors and additional Cook County municipal closures to propose public space re-design, expedited permitting and regulation, as well as partnerships in outdoor furniture and other logistics. If you or your firm is interested in joining this working group, please e-mail us. 

© 2020 by CITY OPEN Workshop.