No Small Plans

No Small Plans is a full color graphic novel that follows the neighborhood adventures of teens in Chicago’s past, present and future as they wrestle with what it will take to design the city they want, need and deserve. 

Created by Gabrielle Lyon (Chicago Architecture Foundation) and Eyes of the Cat Illustration: Devin Mawdsley, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin and Deon Reed.

No Small Plans is organized into three chapters illustrating Chicago in 1928, 2017 and 2211. In between each chapter, an “interlude” brings Daniel Burnham, Wacker’s Manual and the art and science of urban planning to life. Each chapter concludes with a neighborhood map showing where the action takes place.

Our team worked well over a year to complete this novel, and we are excited to get copies in the hands of young people! Below are a sample of pages. More images and backstory in-the-making coming soon.


Some links for more info

Chicago Architecture Foundation Project page:

Check out the No Small Plans Reader’s Toolkit including Annotated Guides to each chapter:

Purchase your copy here:

Teacher free copy request here:

Kickstarter page – goal exceeded! (great backstory on the project):


Pre-release press

City Lab article: “Drawing Up an Urban Planning Manual for Chicago Teens”

Columbia Chronicle article: “Graphic novel to open up imagination about civic, urban engagement”

Chicago Magazine: “No Small Plans Brings Chicago’s Past, Present, and Possible Future to Life” by Anjulie Rao


Reviews and Other Plugs

Chicago Tribune: Blair Kamin, Graphic novel seeks to show CPS students the importance of urban planning

The New Yorker: Alexandra Lange, A Graphic Novel to Transform Teens into City Planners

Chicago Reader: Tanner Howard, The Chicago Architecture Foundation creates a graphic novel for the city’s future

Gabrielle Lyon, was on The Morning Shift and Chicago Tonight to talk about the project.

NEXT CITY shared an excerpt of Chapter 2 titled A Teenage Throwdown Against Displacement, the Graphic Novel Version.