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Chicago winter outdoor dining design challenge winners announced by city: Block Party, Cozy Cabins, Heated Tables

CHICAGO (WLS) — The city has picked three winners from over 600 submissions to their Winter Dining Challenge.

The team of judges chose three designs that “capture the spirit of Chicago while providing feasible and safe options for Chicagoans to enjoy dining out as temperatures drop,” according to a statement from the city.

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The winners are Amy Young’s Cozy Cabins, Neil Reindel and Flo Mettetal’s Block Party and Ellie Henderson’s Heated Tables.

Young’s design utilized parking spaces for small modular adjoining “cabins.”

“Our Cozy Cabins idea focused on creating a warm, welcoming experience to encourage Chicago residents to safely dine in rather than take out,” said Young of ASD | SKY said in a statement. “We wanted to create an outdoor destination centered around new experiences, neighborhood connections, and a sense of community-elements lost while dining at home. We hope this idea helps support small businesses and safely bring people together during this difficult year.”

Reindel and Mettetal took a flexible approach with their design, which could be implemented for many different sites and street designs. They were inspired by children’s blocks, designing reinforced plastic cubes with radiant heat mesh for diners to be comfortable outside in the winter and beyond.

“We were trying to really infuse a playfulness quality like blocks or Legos, hence the ‘block party,'” Reindel said.

“It could be moveable blocks and adapted to a parking lane or parking space or pocket park that they could take over,” said Mettetal.

Henderson modified the Japanese Kotatsu as an economical way to keep warm when the weather outside is frightful.

The winners of the Winter Design Challenge will each receive a $5,000 cash prize.

The Illinois Restaurant Association will also be working with IDEO to select local construction firms to create prototypes of the winning designs and to build them at restaurants through a pilot program.

This pilot program will be administered by the IRA and will be paid for with funds that BMO Harris has contributed.

“We expected that the Winter Design Challenge would attract many great ideas, but the number of unique, innovative suggestions was staggering,” said David Casper, Chair and CEO, BMO Harris Bank in a statement.

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