McDonald's Headquarters

Designed by: Studio O+A and IA Interior Architects
For client: Floor area: 44593.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Large Office of the Year

Public Score
4.05 Function
4.00 Innovation
4.10 Creativity
Oa Mc Donalds 1001 2
© Garrett Rowland

The Randolph Street Lobby provides new recruits to Hamburger University a welcoming portal to the learning facility upstairs with a screen wall that features McDonald’s innovators.

About the Project

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 and leisure all contributed to McDonald’s move from the campus at Oak Brook to a nine-story building in Chicago’s West Loop. To make the move an architectural event worthy of its business impact, McDonald’s hired IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A to turn a lean, light-infused, shell into a celebration of the company’s spirit. The diversity of workstyles represented here mirrors McDonald’s large embrace and illustrates the power of place to bring people together. Classic work areas and meeting rooms interact with spaces that have the look and feel of hospitality venues. Every architectural gesture functions on its own and in partnership with the spaces around it. The test kitchen at Hamburger University, for example, captures the artistry of engineering, while one floor below Jessica Stockholder’s massive sculpture made of kitchen hardware acknowledges the engineering essential to public art. Together the two spaces play variations on McDonald’s assertion that “all good things come from the kitchen.” Similarly, a multi-directional staircase in the building’s central atrium provides a striking focal point, but also symbolizes the M.C. Escher-esque sensation of moving forward in many directions at once.

What’s unique about it

We believe McDonald’s West Loop office exemplifies a new creativity increasingly prevalent in workplace design . Perhaps nowhere is that creativity more in evidence than in the graphic design strategy O+A devised for McDonald’s. Throughout the office graphic design plays multiple roles—mood setter, brand signifier, historic record and storyteller. In that sense the West Loop HQ is a kind of architectural summation of all things McDonald’s. Each space celebrates the energy of the company and places it in a context both of humble origins and global impact. One challenge on this project was the sheer volume of source material and the need to include as much of it as possible in telling McDonald’s story. This company’s long journey from a single hamburger drive-in in San Bernardino, California to a globally recognized brand almost 80 years later encompassed multiple through-lines of cultural change. Our challenge was to weave them into a single narrative that captured both the simplicity of McDonald’s origins and the complexity of its current operations. We wanted to communicate McDonald’s diversity and the strength of its commitment to family and community. And we wanted to do so in ways that were playful, but meaningful; original, but grounded in the traditions of classic McDonald’s design. Pulling a story this big into a coherent environmental graphics package was a challenge both to our visual imagination and to our ability to organize information.

Oa Mc Donalds 1154
© Garrett Rowland

In the Carpenter Street Lobby a reception area framed in hickory and mesh gives a subtle designer’s nod to the golden arches and classic fry basket.

Oa Mc Donalds 2248 3
© Garrett Rowland

A wall display of Happy Meal toys catches the spirit of play that has made McDonald's a consistent favorite of families with children.

Oa Mc Donalds Shoot2 1933
© Garrett Rowland

Jessica Stockholder’s lobby sculpture made up entirely of kitchen hardware offers another perspective on the engineering that makes McDonald’s service model possible

Oa Mc Donalds 1594 2
© Garrett Rowland

Individual work areas interact with meeting spaces in seamless (and well-lit) harmony.

Studio Oa Mc Donalds Hashimoto 0369 2
© Garrett Rowland

Jacob Hashimoto's hanging atrium sculpture turns the concept of "economies of scale" into an ethereal floating presence.

Oa Mc Donalds Shoot2 0863
© Garrett Rowland

The third floor Sustainability Lounge celebrates McDonald’s commitment to sustainable sourcing with 10 ft x 10 ft wall installations that turn the patterns of sustainable-grown crops around the world into abstract art.

Oa Mc Donalds Shoot2 0679
© Garrett Rowland

Decades of McDonald’s in a single space: penny crushers, iconic memorabilia and an interactive wall create a dynamic promenade through Hamburger University.

Oa Mc Donalds 2484
© Garrett Rowland

Glowing back-lit lacquer panels and custom resin-cast pieces celebrate McDonald’s innovative and iconic packaging.

Oa Mc Donalds 2424 2
© Garrett Rowland

At the Work Café stadium seating and panoramic 6th floor views create a space both intimate and epic.

Location of project:
Studio O+A

IA Interior Architects

Are you sure?

Remember that you can only vote once per award category.