McDonald's Headquarters

Designed by: Studio O+A
For client: McDonald's Floor area: 146304.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Best Use of Material

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© Garrett Rowland

Floor six showcases Happy Meal toys from the company's vast archive dating back to the program’s inception in 1979. The hickory cabinet was inspired by the geometry of play.

About the Project

McDonald’s HQ is a space drenched in history, tradition and contemporary design. The dichotomy of this is woven throughout in a single narrative, communicated through materiality. Each floor is teeming with thoughtfully curated materials that create a layered, interactive, textural experience.

The lobby features dramatic wooden archways infilled with architectural mesh – the archways representing the iconic golden arches, while the mesh has the same geometry of the French fry baskets used in McDonald’s kitchens. The lobby is also home to the first of two large-scale art installations. Chicago artist, Jessica Stockholder, created a towering sculpture constructed out of hundreds of pieces of patented equipment from McDonald’s restaurants. The piece is an unexpected tribute to innovation, process and the city of Chicago itself. Opposite this striking installation, a living wall overflowing with kale, lettuce and char, speaks to the McDonald's commitment to fresh ingredients and sustainability.

The global flavors wall on floor five, translates the notion of flipping burgers through an abstract display of a series of boxes that can be flipped back and forth to reveal recipes behind core menu items and regional favorites, juxtaposed atop a dimensional Dymaxion Map.

Cascading down the four-story central atrium, Jacob Hashimoto's delicate and ethereal installation is comprised of thousands of hand-crafted paper kites interplaying with the escher-esque stairwell.

What’s unique about it

McDonald's West Loop exemplifies an increasingly prevalent tool in workplace design: strategic materiality that plays the role of mood setter, brand signifier, historic record and storyteller. In that sense, the space is a kind of architectural summation of all things McDonald’s—each unique area celebrating the energy of the company and placing it in a context both of humble origins and global impact.

The deliberate use of materials and textures lend themselves to a feeling, an identity and thus, convey the narrative in subtle, yet impactful ways. To do this, the O+A band team, translated decades of history into tangible materiality in lively, playful ways that combined everything from vintage toys and hamburger wrappers to playground netting and abstract graphics. With impeccable attention to detail, literal and metaphorical representations of the company pillars can be seen throughout.

While the features are intentionally elusive, all are grounded in themes derived directly from the McDonald’s story. The many strands of history, pop culture, culinary tradition and international innovation were weaved into a tapestry of accessible and aesthetically-pleasing environmental designs. Every color, texture, piece of art and every space, demonstrates intention, function and beauty, which in turn, tells the McDonald’s story from the beginning, and forecasts its direction into the future.

This project is the epitome of innovation, art and the celebration of culture.

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© Garrett Rowland

The main lobby features a dramatic architectural element of large wooden archways infilled with mesh. The archways themselves are an abstraction of the iconic golden arches, while the mesh has the same geometry of the French fry baskets used in McDonald’s

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© Garrett Rowland

Every region of the world has its own taste preferences. This wall celebrates McDonald’s varied menu with box-framed exhibits of international comfort foods.

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© Garrett Rowland

Jacob Hashimoto’s kite-like art turns an atrium space into a high flying expression of ebullience and abundance.

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© Garrett Rowland

Jessica Stockholder’s public sculpture in the Carpenter Street lobby uses kitchen hardware to celebrate McDonald’s assertion that “all good things start in the kitchen.”

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© Garrett Rowland

Throughout McDonald's headquarters, wall graphics tell the company's story, celebrate its values and preserve its history.

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© Garrett Rowland

Vintage penny crushers are paired with vintage McDonald’s sign graphics in a reminder of this global giant’s humble origins.

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© Garrett Rowland

The third floor Sustainability Lounge takes crop patterns as seen from the air as inspiration for walls that tell the story of McDonald's agriculture in the 21st century.

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© Garrett Rowland

Back-lit wall graphics and resin recreations of classic french fry sleeves make a tribute to package design a kind of offbeat pop sculpture. The new McDonald's HQ replaced a multi-building, cubicle-partitioned campus with nine stories of open, collaborati

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© Garrett Rowland

Hamburger University picks up many of the cues one would expect from a traditional college, and rethinks them in a way that is uniquely McDonald’s. The great hall of alumni boasts a large perforated screen that leads students up the grand staircase into t

Location of project:
Studio O+A

IA Interior Architects

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