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Fall 2020– Workshop #1: What is a Corridor Development Initiative?

We kicked-off City Open Workshop Fall 2020 – we are excited to be collaborating this season with the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) team and supporting the Corridor Development Initiative (CDI) in Rogers Park. As we edit and publish our session notes on this session, please see session video below.

Documentation materials for this session available in these links:

MPC has worked with the City on previous CDI’s such as Woodlawn and Logan Square. These initiatives use a series of interactive, public workshops to provide community input for both the City, to help inform Request for Proposals (RFP), and incoming developers. The Rogers Park CDI will be surrounding a block of two city-owned lots just off of Ashland and Howard, directly east of the Howard Red/Purple line station. Currently home to the Hello Howard Community Garden, this site was a request from the 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden’s office, as the new administration has already received multiple, unsolicited development proposals that have not sufficiently engaged with the community.

Image description: Snip of Google Maps 3D landscape view of the site looking northeast from the Howard station.

MPC staff Kendra Freeman and Debbie Liu walked us through the engagement strategy previous CDI’s followed: typically MPC might host 3 workshops of 150 people in one room, sharing how development and planning processes work, a design charrette, and live consultation with experts. However we must, of course, redesign this approach to fit into COVID safety guidelines.

“How do we engage people in a meaningful way in a virtual process, but still offer hopefully some tactical in-person opportunities to help people feel really connected to the visioning portion of the exercise?” -Kendra

With these new challenges of digital engagement, City Open will assist in designing and facilitating on three different platforms for the design charrette portion of the CDI: virtual, outdoor & in-person, and a DIY Design kit that individual community members could possibly do at home. We broke out into brainstorming sessions in these three categories and (only so briefly!) discussed how we might approach these various methods. Since time felt cut short, everyone agreed we needed to meet in-between Workshops every other week for some extra working sessions.

Image description: white text on black background of the parallel timelines of City Open workshops and the upcoming CDI community meetings we’ll be preparing for. Diagram designed by Paola Aguirre.

Until then, each group will explore big idea questions and who their respective audience would be: the Virtual group discussed which platforms could be more effective in communicating, in 2D and 3D, such as Miro or SketchUp; perhaps pre-made blocks or graphics could be utilized. The In-Person group considered hosting the workshops in the adjacent park, referencing large-scale chalk delineations to maintain COVID safety guidelines of social distancing and potentially map visualizations. The DIY Design Kit group studied potentially targeting physical kits to specific audiences - potentially engaging with the nearby Gale elementary school students, for example.

Image description: Reference images of large-scale engagement methods from the brainstorming session from the in-person group, displaying a person jumping over a model of an urban corridor of North Lawndale, a group of people engaging with a chalk map on sidewalk, people reviewing image boards in an outdoor tent, and groups of people gathered in socially-distanced chalk circles in a park.

Please email us at to join a working session group or register for the next Workshop here. We will also be hosting a walking tour of the site on Saturday, September 13, with Torrence Gardner from the 49th Ward office. Lastly, we highly encourage you to participate in the Rogers Park CDI sessions outside of City Open Workshop! Find out how on MPC’s website here.


PAOLA AGUIRRE (City Open Workshop co-founder) is an architectural and urban designer, educator, and founder of Borderless, Chicago-based urban design and research studio focused on collaborative design agency through interdisciplinary projects.

LOUISA ZHENG is a designer interested in social impact and community participatory processes.

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