Writing an architecture and urban design preview for 2021 is an exercise in guesswork. With vaccine distribution in its initial stages and city centers still largely shut down, firm opening dates are hard to come by.

Call it the Year of the Question Mark.

Downtowns turned into ghost towns by the pandemic, including Chicago’s, should start coming back to life once a vaccine is widely distributed, but it’s unclear when that rebound will occur and how strong it will be.

Will shoppers return to stores? Will office workers go back to their cubicles? Will demand for downtown apartments recover? Will trains and buses fill up again? The stakes are enormous for property owners, retailers, transit agencies and Chicago’s tax base.

Chicago Tribune