A team of practitioners
Civic Projects is a hybrid design practice.
Founded by Monica Chadha, Civic Projects is a hybrid architecture practice based on the South Side of Chicago. In our world, hybrid means that our work includes architecture, but goes beyond to include community and strategic planning, grant writing, and small scale revitalization. Our engagement process prioritizes the involvement of those who the project serves. Through visioning sessions, community workshops, and in-depth research, we facilitate a participatory process that brings all of our stakeholders to the table.
Our team is extensively experienced in architecture and other design practices, providing us with breadth and depth of experience. For each project, our practice puts together a team with experience in strategy development and stakeholder engagement, as well as the ability to formulate solutions. We have worked as a trusted partner on many projects on the South Side of Chicago, such as the Virginio Ferrari Arts Center and the Chicago Torture Justice Center. Civic Projects is also a strategic partner with Ralph Appelbaum Associates for the Obama Presidential Center Museum Design Team.
We believe deeply in each project’s potential to catalyze activity and strengthen local bonds. Our unique approach results in projects that are deeply embedded, long after the construction process is over. Read more about our process here.
Civic Projects is a Certified Minority and Woman Owned Business.
Monica Chadha is a LEED-certified, licensed architect with over 20 years of experience. As founder and principal of Civic Projects, she contributes a background that is as equally steeped in social engagement and quality design. Prior to founding Civic Projects, Monica led project teams at two of Chicago’s most notable architecture firms: Studio Gang and Ross Barney Architects. During that time, she was integral to the design of award-winning civic-scale buildings, such as the Champaign Public Library and the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Civil Engineering Building. Monica brings this wide range of design experience, combined with community engagement techniques developed as Founding Director of Impact Detroit, to all of Civic Projects’ work. She works collaboratively with community groups and organizations to develop projects that revitalize and invigorate the communities they serve.
Beyond the scope of Civic Projects, Monica serves as co-chair of the Sensible Growth Committee (Metropolitan Planning Council), as a Strategic Consultant for Archeworks, and is on the Board of the Delta Institute. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology for over a decade, engaging students in social impact design practices. In 2010, she was recognized as an Emerging Leader by The Design Futures Council, and in 2013, she was featured in the inaugural Public Interest Design 100 list of leaders. She received a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Architecture from the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Jacob Chartoff is a licensed architect with more than 15 years of experience in architecture and project management. He brings an extensive range of skills to Civic Projects. While serving as the Staff Architect and Director of Campus Planning and Construction for Columbia College Chicago, Jacob was responsible for designing and facilitating the construction of spaces that translated the institutional brand, mission, and strategic goals of the College into usable, fiscally-responsible and aesthetically-minded environments. Jacob’s background in looking for solutions from the client’s perspective enhances the mission Civic Projects to serve clients at every stage of a project.
While at GLUCK+, he led the project team for the design of The Stack, an award-winning, prefabricated apartment building in New York City. Comprised of fifty-six modules that were fabricated off-site, the seven-story building was delivered and erected over the course of a few weeks. As an architect at Landon Bone Baker Architects and Wheeler Kearns Architects, Jacob collaborated on multi-family residential, high-end residential, and institutional projects. Jacob is a contributor to MAS Context, a quarterly journal that addresses issues affecting the urban context. In 2013, he was one of the founding members of the Wabash Arts Corridor, which utilized public art in urban spaces to transform the South Loop.
Jess comes to Civic Projects with experience in schematic design, historic preservation, and educational architecture from prior internships at Bauer Latoza Studio and Harding Partners. While at Bauer Latoza, she was involved in the production of as-built drawings for Chicago Public Schools, as well as in the condition assessment of campus buildings at the University of Chicago. Her work at Civic Projects ranges from workshop facilitation to residential permit sets. Recent projects have included workshop development for Chicago Torture Justice Center and the Obama Presidential Center Museum Design Team. She also contributes to the diagramming and strategic planning of our Reinventing Cities proposal.
As a collaborator of CANDO Corporation, she also acts as web designer and data manager for their most recent project – a public repository of minority and woman-owned businesses in Chicago. The site is intended to encourage better workforce diversity on construction projects. Jess earned her Bachelors of Architecture with a concentration in Architectural History & Theory from Illinois Institute of Technology.
Our collaborators bring expertise in urban planning, education, sustainability, and policy; enriching each project with their specialized knowledge and contributions. Combined with our commitment to quality design and architecture, our collaborative practice results in projects that are deeply embedded in their context and communities.
Abby Hamlin (Hamlin Ventures, LLC)
Abby Hamlin is a real estate developer and civic thinker. In 1998, she founded Hamlin Ventures, which remains one of a handful of successful woman-owned development companies. Prior to forming Hamlin Ventures, Abby was President of Swig Weiler & Arnow Management, a premiere commercial real estate company that developed, owned, and managed 8 million square feel of office properties in New York City and San Francisco. As an active civic leader, she is a board member for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and has led several of its public design initiatives.
Clement Blanchet (cBA)
Clément Blanchet is the founder and principal of Clément Blanchet Architecture (cBA) and a former Associate of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in France. During his 10 years of collaboration with Rem Koolhaas, Clément contributed to the development of OMA in Europe and led several award winning projects for the firm. Founded in Paris in 2014, his firm Clément Blanchet Architecture has worked on major projects such as the R&D Center for Carrefour, a new mixed-use complex for Georgia, and the French Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai.
Sharlene Young is the principal and owner of Symbiotic Living Architecture and Design. For more than 25 years, Sharlene has worked with clients to enrich their lives through her designs and the built environment. After graduating from Cornell’s School of Architecture, Art and Planning, Sharlene spent time working with industry giants such as Gary Lee Partners, The Environments Group and Perkins and Will. For over 12 years, Sharlene was the Interior Practice Lead at Wheeler Kearns Architects in Chicago. Based on the mission to achieve design excellence through the perspective of wellbeing, Sharlene’s firm focuses on both residential and commercial office projects.
Mark de Groh
Mark de Groh is founding principal of Re:public Good, a San Francisco-based impact advisory firm pursuing full implementation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He helps investors, governments, corporations, and NGOs deliver on SDG indicators while maximizing bottom line returns for their stakeholders. An expert on regenerative design and partnership formation, he leverages a network rare in depth and diversity to marshal financial and social capital for his clients and the public good. An urban historian and spatial theorist by training, he holds degrees from Ohio State and Princeton University.
Norman Teague is a South Side-based designer and educator focused on design projects that address the complexity of urbanism and the history of communities. Specializing in custom furniture and delivering a personal touch for each client that adds unique aesthetic, Teague’s past projects have included consumer products, fashion, public sculpture, performances, installations work, and specially designed retail spaces. Teague worked with Theaster Gates on 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, which enabled material transferred from a South Side Chicago vacant building to transform the abandoned Huguenot house. He is a cofounder of the teen Design Apprenticeship Program at the University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator.
OPC Chicago Museum Design Team
The Obama Presidential Center Museum Design Team includes several firms and collaborators.
Photo: Renata Graw, Norman Teague, Monica Chadha, Jen Park, Amanda Williams, Andres Hernandez.
CURRENT AND PAST COLLABORATORS
Shreya Minama Reddy