Improving Lives Through Design

  • CannonDesigner and Founder of Open Hand Studio, John Syvertsen, FAIA,  tells the story of the Anixter Center—a large nonprofit serving people with disabilities in the Chicago area. Our collaboration with this organization, and many like this around the world, is a testament to CannonDesign’s belief that the power of design can transform lives. Through Open Hand Studio, we are committed to bringing our skills and expertise into the communities in which we live and work. Learn more about Open Hand Studio

Open Hand Studio™ represents CannonDesign’s commitment to public interest design. We believe that our communities derive significant benefits from access to the design professions, and through Open Hand Studio we are dedicated to providing pro bono design services to those who would otherwise lack access to them; helping the general public to understand the potential for design to improve life and advance culture; and providing innovative solutions to local and global challenges.

To contact one of our Open Hand Studio leaders, please email

We seek opportunities to incorporate these values into every project we undertake, and we believe that this approach creates shared value for our communities, our clients, our staff and our shareholders.

This clear vision of social sustainability has caused CannonDesign to define Open Hand Studio as a virtual studio, a movement, a dialogue and a call to action. We achieve multiple aims through a three-pronged approach:

  • We connect individuals with national and community organizations dedicated to providing design services for the public good.

  • We organize outreach activities and events benefiting the communities in which we work.

  • We target and assess pro-bono projects for clients that need our service and could not otherwise accomplish the work.

CannonDesign is the first AE firm to pledge to A Billion + Change, the leading effort in the United States to organize pro bono and skills-based service on a national scale. We further advance our dedication to public interest design through partnerships on a global and local scale with leading institutions in this arena including Public Architecture and Taproot Foundation.

View our Open Hand Studio report to learn more.