Commissioner Cox Announces 24 Appointments to Chicago's First Committee on Design

July 8, 2021

‘All-Star’ Group to Advise Planning Staff on Design Excellence for Priority Projects

The design review and approval process for Chicago’s largest construction projects will be enhanced and streamlined through a volunteer Committee on Design consisting of the city’s top urban design professionals, Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Commissioner Maurice Cox announced today. 

Largely comprised of globally recognized architects, artists, academics, and real estate professionals, the 24-member committee will advise DPD and developers on innovative and cost-effective design considerations that will help large construction projects to be expediently processed through internal, Plan Commission, and City Council-related project reviews. 

“The Committee on Design is truly an all-star cast that will offer invaluable, implementable, and realistic recommendations involving design excellence and related development concerns that will lead to better projects and improved neighborhoods,” Cox said. “Its contributions will be vital to long-term neighborhood vitality, resilience and livability, especially as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.”  

Committee members will serve two-year terms, starting with the initial appointees below: 

  • Catherine Baker, partner, Landon Bone Baker 
  • Sara Beardsley, technical director, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture 
  • Andre Brumfield, principal, Gensler 
  • Nick Cave, sculptor and performance artist 
  • Bob Clark, executive chairman and founder, Clayco 
  • Philip Enquist, partner, SOM 
  • Bob Faust, designer and artist 
  • Jeanne Gang, founder, Studio Gang 
  • Theaster Gates, artist and professor at the Department of Visual Arts, University of Chicago 
  • Eleanor Gorski, planning and design director, University of Illinois-Chicago 
  • Hana Ishikawa, design principal, Site Design Group 
  • Casey Jones, principal, Perkins & Will 
  • Jackie Koo, principal, Koo Architecture 
  • Reed Kroloff, dean, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture 
  • Brian Lee, consulting partner, SOM 
  • Renauld Mitchell, partner, Moody Nolan 
  • Juan Gabriel Moreno, president and founder, Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects 
  • Guacolda Reyes, chief real estate development officer, The Resurrection Project 
  • John Ronan, founding principal, John Ronan Architects 
  • Lesley Roth, principal, Lamar Johnson Collaborative 
  • Ann Thompson, executive vice president for architecture and design, Related Midwest 
  • Maria Villalobos, assistant professor, Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture 
  • Leon Walker, managing partner, DL3 Realty 
  • Amanda Williams, visual artist  

Committee members represent each of Chicago’s seven planning regions and a wide range of interrelated disciplines, including affordable housing, architecture, art, community development, public engagement, landscape architecture and historic preservation. Each was either recruited or selected through an open application process that DPD launched this spring.  

Twelve committee members will review major development projects on the second Wednesday of every month, based on project size, height, geography, and potential city subsidies. Basic triggers for project review include the below criteria: 

  • Planned Developments that exceed 10 acres, 2.5 million square feet of space, or 2,500 residential units
  • High rises that are 80 feet or taller, any projects that are not height-compliant with current zoning and policy, and any projects that vary from the scale and character of the surrounding context
  • Projects that use City resources, such as Tax Increment Financing, Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus funds, or support from the INVEST South/West initiative
  • Projects that are adjacent to overlay districts or special street designations, such as landmark districts, pedestrian streets, etc.

Because the committee’s recommendations will occur early in the development process, prior to a developer submitting a formal application to the City for zoning or other entitlements, its work is expected to result in faster, more productive review and approval procedures. The process currently takes approximately six months or more from a project’s application date, internal review, a Plan Commission hearing, and City Council approval.  

The committee’s recommendations, where appropriate, will be formalized by DPD staff through written and verbal discussions with individual developers prior to the submission of formal development applications. DPD staff, along with representatives from other City departments, will continue to review projects that are not selected for review by the Committee on Design. 

The Committee on Design’s first meeting will take place virtually at 1 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2021. A formal agenda will be posted a week in advance at, which also includes additional information about the group, its purview, and answers to frequently asked questions. Meetings will be open to the public. 

With the group’s formation, the City of Chicago’s design review processes more closely align with peer-review models of other major North American cities, including New York, Toronto, Boston, Seattle and others. 

Questions and comments from the development community and the public can be directed to


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