Civic Projects is a multi-disciplinary practice focused on impacting the built environment. 

engage | design | build


Civic Projects Somers Studio Engagement


Our practice takes on a participatory approach as we work collaboratively with communities and organizations to develop a project.  


We are a multi-disciplinary architecture practice with over 20 years experience. 


Civic Projects Somer Studio Design Build


We design/build micro to macro projects for communities and develop multi-family housing.  

Virginio Ferrari Contemporary Arts Center


The Ferrari Contemporary Art Center is a new arts center that will situate itself on Chicago's South Side and serve as a beacon for the neighborhood. Virginio Ferrari is a celebrated artist in both Chicago and Italy. His extensive work will be showcased and the Center will provide a space where artists, scholars and students collaborate to engage with the public and revitalize ideas and spaces. 

The Center is designed in collaboration with Jen Parks of Jurassic Studio.



View from Workshop

Section Cut showing gallery space, community space, courtyard and workshop. 

Program Diagram

Program Diagram

Englewood Accelerator


Introducing the Greater Englewood CDC's food based business incubator. This space is home to 35+ entrepreneurs providing public and private work areas. The space was conceived in partnership with Shed Studio. The blue hexagon screen element is a design-build project with students in the College of Architecture at IIT. 



Lounge Area

Private Work Station

Englewood Exchange


The Greater Englewood CDC is proposing the interior build out of approx. 14,000 SF in the annex of the US Bank Building at 63rd and Halsted. The facility will occupy the ground floor and lower level of 821 West 63rd. 

Located in the heart of Englewood the Community Café will provide a place to socialize and gather for residents and emerging entrepreneurs. The Café will serve the general public as well as provide meeting space for businesses in the area

 The facility will include a demonstration kitchen classroom for food service training and food innovation. The CDC is reaching out to local food innovators for support in creating a food lab that can be used by emerging entrepreneurs.

 The shared kitchen will provide shared spaces and industrial equipment for use by the day or by the hour for caterers, entrepreneurs, young chiefs and specialty food makers.

The space will allow home-based businesses to expand and sell commercially. The incubator will also provide business technical assistance programming to help community-based food entrepreneurs grow. Classes, demonstrations and marketing are some of the services offered.



Exterior Rendering

Interior Rendering

Level One Plan

User Charrette

Retail Store and Cafe


Sugar Beet is a locally owned grocery store and community hub that will provide a neighborhood source for local, sustainable, healthy foods and a way of connecting farmers and producers to their customers.

As part of the Co-op’s sustainable design we travelled to Roscoe, Illinois to dismantle an existing barn. The material from the barn is being used in the construction of the interior millwork for the project. 

Sugar Beet’s non profit arm serves the surrounding communities providing access to education and healthy food choices. The Co-op provides a space for emerging entrepreneurs to sell their products. This project was done in collaboration with Hammersley Architecture.



Interior View

Custom Millwork

Custom Millwork

1448 East 67th Place


This multi-family residential project is a full get rehabbed of a traditional Chicago 6-flat. 



Pop Up Retail


We developed a temporary retail environment in a vacant storefront in Bronzeville which allowed 6 vendors space to sell their wares. This pop-up was designed so that elements are portable and can be easily moved to other vacant storefronts in the community. 

Over 200 people attended and shopped in 2 days from both from the neighborhood and from around the city. We reached out to emerging entrepreneurs early to identify both their needs and market readiness to participate in this type of pop-up. We curated the selection of retailers, the graphics, the timing of the event and the programming during the event.

Creator and Instructor in partnership w/ the Illinois Institute of Technology Interprofessional Projects Program. Co-instructor Mike Newman. 



Signage | Display Screen

Transaction Table

Display Case

Portable Furniture


In an effort to spur activity and challenge people’s perceptions about the area, the Urban Activators team created a system of portable lightweight furniture, including chairs, game tables, and furniture storage bins. The students also created questions for public debate. The first of these: ‘I wish 43rd Street was ...’ was unveiled on a series of chalkboards at the July 2012 launch. The community continues to use the urban furniture for public events drawing local and national attention to the adjacent historic Forum Building. 

Community Partners: Illinois Institute of Technology Interprofessional Projects Program, Urban Juncture and local block clubs



@ The Forum, Bronzeville

Frame | Work


Invited to participate in the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Fifty Wards, 50th Anniversary Exhibition, Civic Projects w. Carlo Parente developed a new approach to activating vacant lots and vacant buildings. 

FRAME | WORK is a modular prototype that sparks commerce and activates the streets of under-resourced communities through engagement in and enhancement of commercial corridors. This system of pieces can be assembled inside vacant storefronts or in empty lots, customized to the use and location. Its deployment fosters activities such as retail enterprise, children’s play and farmer’s markets. These temporary interventions become permanent over time, helping fill in the gaps along neglected commercial strips. Many of the communities ripe to receive FRAME | WORK are home to small manufacturing companies that strive to remain relevant and solvent in today’s marketplace. The system’s materials and design may change in response to local businesses, intended to support community development on many levels.

The first phase of FRAME | WORK is in progress, developed with local manufacturers and community partners: The Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, EnglewoodBlue Business Accelerator, Chatham Development Corporation and Bronzeville Retail Initiative. FRAME | WORK is a prototype that aims to spark commerce as well as activity in under resourced communities. It activates the street through engagement and enhancement of the commercial corridor. This project functions as the architectural equivalent of Square, the wireless credit card readers that allow commerce to be conducted anywhere. Instead of expensive renovation or new construction, this system is simple, reproducible and engages passersby.

The first phase of FRAME | WORK was completed summer of 2016. The project has been developed with local manufactuers and our community partners, The Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, Englewood Accelerator and 63rd Street Farmer's Market. 



Virginio Ferrari Foundation Contemporary Arts Center

A new contemporary arts center on Chicago's South Side to activate neighborhoods, provide exhibit and studio space for the Virginio Ferrari Collection and exhibit and residency space to local artists. The art center will encompass community programming and provide indoor and outdoor space for events, exhibits and activity.

Shoe Heals

Looking to expand this upcoming retail and collection space will transform a vacant storefront into a vibrant and active space. 

Oak Park Contemporary Artists Cooperative

Working with the art and design community we are growing access to contemporary art. Phase One will be the activation of vacant storefronts through programming, exhibitions and events. Phase Two will provide permanent space for the contemporary arts in Oak Park.  

Chicago Torture Justice Center

We have just completed a physical needs assessment and report with the Chicago Torture Justice Center. Through both engagement with torture survivors and extensive feedback we've developed a report that synthesizes the needs and desires for the facility. Serving firstly survivors of the Burge Case and secondly ongoing survivors the Center's mission is:

The Chicago Torture Justice Center seeks to address the traumas of police violence and institutionalized racism through access to healing and wellness services, trauma-informed resources, and community connection. The Center is part of and supports a movement to end all forms of police violence. 


Past Work


Louise M. Beem Early Childhood Center , College of DuPage, Project Manager, Ross Barney Architects 

Louise M. Beem Early Childhood Center , College of DuPage, Project Manager, Ross Barney Architects 

Louise M. Beem Early Childhood Center , College of DuPage, Project Manager, Ross Barney Architects 

Louise M. Beem Early Childhood Center , College of DuPage, Project Manager, Ross Barney Architects 

Civil Engineering Building, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Project Manager at Ross Barney Architects, Photo by Kate Joyce