Interior Design: Office/Commercial
RMcDonald’s HQ, McDonald’s Long Road Trip Heads Downtown
When a company as rooted in popular culture as McDonald’s moves its headquarters after 47 years, it’s not just a momentous business decision—it’s a statement about the way we live our lives. Changes in our attitudes toward food, work, leisure, where we live, how we define ourselves all contributed to McDonald’s move from the campus at Oak Brook to a 9-story building in Chicago’s West Loop. McDonald’s envisioned a new HQ that would encourage collaboration and re-energize its employees. To make the move an architectural event worthy of its business impact, McDonald’s hired two visionary design firms—Studio O+A and IA Interior Architects— to turn a lean, light-infused shell into a celebration of the company’s spirit.
A Summation of All Things McDonald’s
McDonald’s envisioned a new central office that would encourage collaboration and re-energize its employees. The new West Loop office illustrates the power of place to bring people together in a common purpose.
Many Flavors of Work
The mix of cultures and generations typical of a large company today means its office must accommodate a variety of workstyles. The diversity of functions at McDonald’s new headquarters mirrors the company’s large embrace. Classic work areas and meeting rooms designed by IA Interior Architects interact with work areas designed by O+A that have the look and feel of hospitality venues. Every architectural gesture functions on its own and in partnership with the spaces around it.
Chapters Unfolding Floor by Floor
The challenge for both design teams was to make the 9 stories of the West Loop headquarters a narrative worthy of the epic journey they represent. Like co-authors joining forces on one big story, IA and O+A turned each floor into a chapter. A multi-directional staircase in the building’s central atrium provides a striking focal point and an avenue for casual interaction but also symbolizes the M.C. Escher-esque sensation of moving forward in many directions at once. Shared spaces up and down that atrium spell out the story. Every floor evokes a specific element of McDonald’s success—the kitchen, the flavors, the people and the communities. And every floor celebrates innovation.
While the featured design moments are deliberately abstract, all are grounded in meanings derived directly from McDonald’s long road trip. And just as on a road trip our eyes are always forward, at the new McDonald’s headquarters the emphasis is on where this iconic company goes next, both geographically and culturally, in its decades-long mission of bringing “feel-good moments” to billions.
Key Team Members
About the organization
Our central idea is that every client has a story and that a work environment is a great vehicle for telling it. When we’re doing our initial programming on a project, we get all the basics—the headcounts, the distances, the adjacencies and so on—but we also want to know how this company got rolling, who the people are, what they like to do.
We think of this process as good design—and we apply it to every service we offer: commercial interiors, branding, environmental graphics, tenant improvements, design consulting. We’re excited about what’s happening in the design world—and thrilled to be a part of setting the agenda.