Uptown United New Office
Located just north of downtown Chicago, Uptown is a diverse neighborhood rich with history, culture, and a strong network of local businesses. Supporting this area and its residents is Uptown United – a local economic development organization which has doubled down on its mission to bolster its neighborhood, even despite the unique challenges of 2020.
Uptown United’s efforts are reflective of its mission: to nurture a diverse, vibrant, and strong community for current and future residents and businesses. SmithGroup worked in partnership with the group to ensure that the Uptown neighborhood not only survive but thrive during these extraordinary and trying times and long into the future.
STRENGTHENING CONNECTIONS within THE COMMUNITY
SmithGroup's journey with Uptown began in the summer of 2019 – long before COVID-19 was a concern. Members of SmithGroup’s Workplace Practice guided representatives from Uptown United and key community stakeholders through an interactive engagement process intended to help shape the strategy and vision for the organization’s new office location.
SmithGroup’s strategic and interactive workplace planning process – which helps organizations thoughtfully and methodically explore a range of cultural, operational and experiential factors impacting their businesses – was focused on Uptown United’s desire to create an innovative new environment that supports its community-driven mission. Through this process, Uptown United recognized that its current location – within the upper floors of a high-rise office building – was creating a disconnect from the residents and businesses that it aimed to support.
Setting out to find a location that better aligned with its mission, the group relocated its operations to a storefront on North Broadway Avenue, a central thoroughfare within the neighborhood. Located in the heart of Uptown and adjacent to Chicago’s “L” rail line – Uptown’s busiest transit station – this new home base will allow for increased community visibility, improved access to resources, and enhanced market awareness. It will also connect the group’s office and staff more directly with the businesses, neighbors, and visitors it serves.
DESIGN WITH A PURPOSE
Each decision that went into choosing and designing Uptown United’s new 1,500-square-foot storefront office helped to enhance the organization’s mission to support its community. While its prominent location energizes connectivity to the neighborhood and contributes to the ongoing development and rejuvenation of the North Broadway Avenue corridor, its flexible office space also creates new amenities for local businesses – serving as a community hub for residents and a “tourism bureau” for visitors. To be completed in early 2021, the space will boast a new storefront facade, restored historic details, and a bright and colorful interior reflective of Uptown United’s brand and mission of openness, honesty, and readiness to serve.