‘Restaurant Row’ in Chicago’s energized River West neighborhood is where McDonald’s has established its new headquarters, honoring a storied legacy while looking excitedly to the future as a global food company.
Read Interior Design’s coverage of the award-winning design for McDonald’s HQ by Studio O+A and IA Interior Architects.
McDonald’s new 9-story, 600,000+ sq. ft. building accommodates 2,000 employees, and for the first time combines McDonald’s U.S. Operations, Global Operations, and Hamburger University in a single location. According to David Vilkama, McDonald’s Global Creative Design Lead, the inspiration for the modern environment came directly from the company’s food products, but with a twist. Abstractions of these references are what uniquely permeate each floor.
The nuanced brand imagery serves the company culture says Vilkama, by elevating the spirit of what McDonald’s means, what it produces, and for whom. The two-part goal, he says, was to capture McDonald’s history, but more importantly showcase the brand’s spirit for the future.
“It was a balance of doing something very modern and progressive but at the same token doing something that had enough touches of history or touches of nostalgia that people felt like they were coming back home.” Vilkama notes employees are enamored with the environment’s energy and opportunities for collaboration.
”People really at the end of the day love the look of it. They’re very proud of it, and they love coming to work.”
Geometric patterning is used throughout, including digitally printed and felt wallcoverings, and also “Farm Walls” created from precision-routed and painted plywood assemblies. Different abstracted maps are used to convey global menu options both in the first-floor public restaurant and in a corporate hallway upstairs.
The abstractions are at the heart of the environmental experience says Juliana Strieff, Creative Design Lead for the McDonald’s Global Innovation Design Team. “We as a company invested so much into not only a project of this magnitude and a space of this magnitude, but doing it in a different way and a unique way and a new way.
“We wanted people to be able to discover it a little bit more, and spend some time with it, and have that moment of excitement when they realize what it actually is,” Strieff says, when describing the Farm Walls. The boldly dimensional 3rd-floor installations span a large communal open space, comprised of vignettes showcasing the different types of global farming landscapes that provide the basis for McDonald’s food, from wheat to grapeseed oil to rice.
Interactive installations throughout the building allow employees and visitors to discover and experience more about McDonald’s through sight and touch, like the aforementioned Global Menu Walls, an iconic Penny Press Wall, and the monochromatic yet dynamic Packaging Wall.
“Moss is absolutely a one-stop shop for things that don’t exist in the world,” Strieff says, a development partner for “crazy ideas.”
“Moss is one part artist and one part technician. Because they’re able to blend these two worlds seamlessly and that’s a really difficult thing to do.”
Moss Fabrication for McDonald’s
Base Building Architect / Gensler
Workplace Designer / IA Interior Architects
Experience and Brand Designer / Studio O+A
- Ground Floor: Restaurant Global Menu Wall with light up ‘Arches’ denoting the day’s global menu items
- Hamburger University Lobby: Laser-cut steel perf wall, painted floor quote, glass & vinyl dimensional signage
- Hamburger University Stairway: Printed wallcovering
- 2nd Floor: Penny Press Wall display mounting & access, Ray Kroc and Fred Turner wall, Hamburger University illuminated plexi signage
- 3rd Floor: Farm Walls of layered/routed/painted plywood with elements from .75” to 3” thick, printed felt lounge walls, suspended felt shapes on custom track system
- 4th Floor: Global Flavors Wall with routed MDF map installation and plywood spinning-graphic box assemblies, Local Flavors Wall with wooden rails and menu board letters, printed felt wallcovering
- 5th Floor: 3D Packaging Wall of formed resin elements on perforated & illuminated wall, Wheat Paste Walls of printed cut vinyl sandwich wrap art in the style of wheat paste, printed felt wallcovering, Moss Illuminedge Lightboxes™
- 6th Floor: Corridor wallcovering, printed felt wallcovering, Moss Illuminedge Lightboxes
- 7th Floor: Lenticular Wall, corridor wallcovering, printed felt wallcovering, Moss Illuminedge Lightboxes
- 8th Floor: Printed felt wallcovering, Moss Illuminedge Lightboxes
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