McDonald’s Chicago Flagship

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Flagship Restaurant
Status: Complete, 2018
Services Provided: Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Size: 19,065 gsf

The new Chicago Flagship celebrates the pure simplicity and enduring authenticity of McDonald’s, welcoming both residents and visitors to a playful and informal gathering place in the heart of the city.

The site is a full city block, just steps off Michigan Avenue, occupied since 1985 by the iconic “Rock ‘n Roll” McDonald’s that emphasized drive through services. The new design re-balances car-pedestrian traffic creating a city oasis where people can eat, drink and meet. Landscape area increase 72% with 43% of the site being open and pedestrian focused, producing a new park-like amenity for a dense area of the city.

The dining room features a garden planted with ferns and white birch trees floating above a digital ordering “street”. From this vantage point guests can experience the landscape beyond and above. Over shared tables with wireless charging and outlets, “tapestries” of living plants improve indoor air quality and provide a backdrop of green gradients. What might surprise many can be found on the adjacent kitchen roof: a row of harvestable apple trees can be seen through a clerestory window, telling a story about the future of urban farming and the utilization of often underused space.

McDonald’s corporate commitment to “make sustainability the new normal” is at the core of the new restaurant design. The structural system, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), will be the first commercial use in Chicago and has a lighter environmental footprint than concrete and steel. The solar pergola will capture the sun’s energy, supplying part of the buildings consumption needs. Throughout the site, permeable paving is used to reduce storm water runoff and the heat island effect. The building is designed to achieve LEED certification.