McDonald’s Chicago Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A: 2018 Best of Year Winner for Extra-Large Office Domestic
After nearly half a century home-based in a cubicle-centric suburban campus, McDonald’s did a 180, relocating to a nine-story new-build in downtown Chicago. Led by IA Interior Architect’s design director Neil Schneider and senior job captain Ruben Gonzalez, along with Studio O+A principals Perry Stephney and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Primo Orpilla, the interdisciplinary team synthesized an ambitious program that included open-plan office space to support varied work styles, abundant meeting and teaming areas, state-of-the-art test kitchens, hospitality-esque conference and training facilities, and robust amenities.
The airy, modern scheme celebrates McDonald’s legacy of innovation while fostering interdepartmental collaboration and connections among staffers—interactions the siloed former space inhibited. The heart of the 480,000-square-foot HQ is a skylit atrium ringed with communal spaces and zigzagged by a dizzying four-story staircase. “Its M.C. Escher–esque quality symbolizes the sensation of moving forward in many directions at once,” Schneider says.
Spotlighting the company’s history and culture are art installations and catchy graphics, from high-tech plasma screens to old-school memorabilia displays. A centerpiece of the hickory-clad lobby—with a separate reception for those attending orientation at Hamburger University—is a site-specific sculpture by Jessica Stockholder. The suspended assemblage of appliance parts and culinary accouterments embodies a McDonald’s aphorism that “all good things come from the kitchen”—ideally, with a side of fries.
Project Team: IA Interior Architects: Adrienne Harbarger; Nick Mosher; Maggie Schroeder; Anne Nilsson;
Cara Rooney; Carolyn Tucker; Gary Bouthillette; Julie Maggos; Christine Lai; Brandon Olsen;
Bryan Yu; Tj Smoczynski. Studio O+A: Elizabeth Vereker; Tari Pelaez; Alex Bautista;
Paulina Mcfarland; Kristina Cho; Jill Gentles; Donald Koide.