• Chicago Design Database Network
    Design Trust Chicago

Graphic identity for Design Trust Chicago, 2020. Courtesy Design Trust Chicago

Chicago Design Database Network is an integrated public web platform that creates resources for communities to advance their design and planning initiatives by mapping ideas, projects, people, plans, and organizations. It brings visibility to design efforts in all communities across the City of Chicago—especially BIPOC and ALAANA designers and communities of color that are often overlooked or under-resourced. Access to, and democratization of, design knowledge puts power into the hands of the public and furthers the positive impact of these initiatives. The Chicago Design Database Network is a project rooted in social, spatial, and racial justice, and its design and development will reflect and respond to the complexity and functionality for different content types that can assemble a helpful resource for communities to advance their design and planning efforts.

Katherine Darnstadt is the founder of Latent Design, a progressive architecture and urbanism firm leveraging civic innovation and social impact to design more equitable spaces and systems. Since founding her practice in 2010, Darnstadt and her firm have prototyped new urban design systems to advance urban agriculture, support small business, created spaces for youth makers, advanced building innovation, and created public space frameworks. She and the firm have been published, exhibited and featured widely, most notably at the International Venice Architecture Biennial, Architizer A+ Awards, Chicago Ideas Week, National Public Radio, American Institute of Architects Young Architects Honor Award winner, and Crain’s Chicago 40 Under 40. She currently teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and previously at Northwestern University.

Elle Ramel is Chicago director for GET Cities, a city-based initiative to advance women in the tech economy, and cofounder of City Open Workshop, a community-led volunteer planning and design group for Chicago communities. Prior, she project-managed the redevelopment of the Michael Reese Hospital site for Farpoint Development and led strategic partnerships at City Tech Collaborative, the smart city lab of Chicago, and an economic policy associate in the Mayor’s office at the City of Chicago. She has worked on financial issues and economic development, including infrastructure, corporate recruitment, job growth, sustainability, food business, innovation spaces and land use. Ramel has been acknowledged by New Leaders Council Fellowship, Illinois Women Institute Leadership, and Crain’s Chicago 40 Under 40.

Paola Aguirre Serrano is an urban designer and founder of BORDERLESS, Chicago-based collaborative city design and research practice, and co-founder of City Open Workshop. She focuses on multidisciplinary exchange, city systems integration and participatory civic processes focused on social equity by leveraging her experience working with public, civic, and private organizations in Mexico and the United States. She has taught at the Washington University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Archeworks. She has been acknowledged by Next City Vanguard, Impact Design Hub’s 40 Under 40, Newcity Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago, Emerging Planner Award by the APA – Illinois Chapter, Field Foundation Civic Leader for Racial Equity, Chicago United for Equity Fellowship, and AIA Chicago’s Distinguished Service Award.

SPAN is a Chicago communication design studio crossing the boundaries of design in all mediums. Their practice is focused on challenging expectations with wit, logic, and a playful spirit. Cofounders John Pobojewski and Bud Rodecker have 25 years of shared experience shaping brand strategy and design for clients in the design, cultural, and civic communities. Their team is uniquely talented and multidisciplinary: designers, photographers, 3D animators, illustrators, programmers, musicians, typographers, and educators. In addition to client projects, Span prioritizes the cultivation of new ideas through self-initiated work that bridges different ways of thinking and challenges expectations about the role of design—and this is why Design Trust Chicago is strongly committed to collaborate with Span in designing and developing the Chicago Design Database Network. The expertise and experience of their team includes working on projects such as MAPSCorps.

Founded in 2020, Design Trust Chicago is an emerging multidisciplinary civic impact design organization that partners with local leaders and communities to collectively envision an equitable built environment through the design of healthy, vibrant, safe, and thriving buildings, public spaces, streetscapes, spaces, and places for all Chicagoans. Both embedded in Chicago social justice traditions and dedicated to advance design justice practices, the Design Trust envisions collaborating with residents, nonprofits, and local government to explore design possibilities that center community experiences and develop projects while redirecting resources equitably across Chicago.