ArchDaily – “CLT McDonald’s Expands the Possibilities of Timber”

ArchDaily and Think Wood highlight Ross Barney Architect’s design for the McDonald’s Chicago Flagship.

“In an effort to reinvent an iconic American fast-food brand, McDonald’s U.S. has announced a new direction for the corporation, beginning with rethinking the restaurant’s current archetypal design both in its interior eating spaces and exterior urban landscape. A primary example of this commitment can be seen in the recently completed design for McDonald’s Global Flagship in Chicago by Ross Barney Architects.

The structure, which fills an entire city block in the heart of Chicago, was envisioned as a hallmark example of both the architect and the corporation’s shared commitment to environmentally sustainable design. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), an essential material for the project, replaced many of the commonly-used building materials such as steel, concrete, and plastics that have a larger environmental footprint.

McDonald’s Flagship is the first commercial use of Cross Laminated Timber in Chicago. CLT is a successful building method thanks in part to the relative simplicity of its construction process. The material is generated with a crosswise stack of lumber boards glued together on each face. The alternating 90-degree orientation of the wood boards vastly increases the load capacity of traditional wooden materials. To maximize the capacity, the outer layers of the panels are oriented, upon installation, parallel to the gravitational load. This novel implementation of a common building material eliminates its common structural limitations.

From the street, the Ross Barney’s design conjures up a refreshing alternative to that of a traditional McDonald’s. A solar pergola covers the sidewalk, providing additional outdoor collaborative spaces and inviting pedestrians to enter the New Age eatery. ‘Designing for McDonald’s is designing for America. We wanted to create a space that is authentic, light-filled, and constructed of natural materials,’ said firm Principal Carol Ross Barney. ‘Food means ‘Welcome’ in every culture and we hope everyone feels welcomed entering the new flagship restaurant.’”