McCormick Place Event Center

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Arena and Event Center
Status: Unbuilt

The McCormick Place Event Center was envisioned by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority as a tool to transform the neighborhood surrounding the McCormick Place Campus into a vibrant entertainment district creating an authentic, pedestrian friendly urban experience that would become a landmark destination and major marketing asset for Chicago. The design of the new facility was asked to incorporate a 1,200 room hotel, privately developed 500 room mid-market hotel, and an event center to feature a first-class NCAA basketball court, providing a long sought home for the DePaul University basketball team. The event center was also asked to serve as a general session hall for large business and professional meetings and a venue for concerts or other major events.

The tight urban site is sandwiched between South Indiana and South Prairie Avenues along Cermak Road, providing the opportunity to engage the main through fare of Cermak in a variety of ways. At the outset of the design process, it was decided that the site should give back to the community with a public plaza that could be utilized as an outdoor living room and gathering space. By not utilizing the entire footprint, two thirds of the site was left to develop adequate space for the required program. By maintaining the height of the event center to be in keeping with its surrounding concept, the building integrates seamlessly, providing a human scale. The “V” shaped roof was inspired by the existing DePaul arena and proved to be an efficient use of space. The hotel tower rises vertically to accommodate the requested room count and maximizes views of the city and lake. The entire structure was then draped with a sun shading louvered screen. This move adds articulation to the southern façade while providing thermal comfort.