Architectural Record - “Design on a Diet”

September 20, 2020
Mc Donalds Global Flagship 15

Edi­tor Beth Broome writes: Fast-food restau­rants are not a build­ing type that this mag­a­zine pub­lish­es often. But super­size chain McDonald’s has been mak­ing occa­sion­al for­ays beyond for­mu­la­ic famil­iar­i­ty and the dou­ble mansard vocab­u­lary for some years now and, most recent­ly, has cre­at­ed a stir with an out­let designed by Chica­go-based Ross Bar­ney Archi­tects and locat­ed in – off all places – Dis­ney World…

That this build­ing has land­ed in a theme park – on an unusu­al­ly large, prime site – is not as iron­ic as it might seem. Robert Ven­turi prob­a­bly would have agreed, giv­en the cur­rent appetite for green design.

Dis­ney World is near­er to what peo­ple real­ly want than any­thing archi­tects have ever giv­en them,’ he told Paul Gold­berg­er for a New York Times arti­cle in 1971. It’s a sym­bol­ic Amer­i­can utopia.’ Per­haps the archi­tect had an inkling that, more than 25 years lat­er, in 1998, his firm, Ven­turi, Scott Brown, would design the first McDonald’s flag­ship here, with its state­ly gold­en arch­es and enor­mous Hap­py Meal burst­ing forth from a Mon­dri­anesque façade. Ten years lat­er, the archi­tects revis­it­ed it, bring­ing a more staid, clean-lined aes­thet­ic to the structure.”

Mc Donalds Global Flagship 3
Mc Donalds Global Flagship 2

Last year, as part of their lease-exten­sion dis­cus­sions, the chain decid­ed to renew and update with a fresh scheme. In light of its Scale for Good sus­tain­abil­i­ty pro­gram (which guides every­thing from pack­ag­ing to meat sourc­ing and reduc­ing emis­sions), the com­pa­ny – famous for such naughty indul­gences as Big Macs and the dri­ve-thru – knew that envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship had to be the focus. We are try­ing to project an image of McDonald’s as a pro­gres­sive, mod­ern brand,’ says Max Car­mona, senior direc­tor of glob­al design and devel­op­ment. McDonald’s turned to Ross Bar­ney, which in 2018 designed a ground­break­ing steel-and-cross-lam­i­nat­ed-tim­ber glob­al flag­ship in Chicago. 

In Orlan­do, we didn’t beat around the bush,’ says design prin­ci­pal Car­ol Ross Bar­ney. We want­ed to see how far we could reduce ener­gy require­ments and decid­ed that this had to be a net zero store – we want­ed to present a bill­board to Amer­i­ca, to com­mu­ni­cate the cor­po­rate val­ues of this com­pa­ny. And then I said, What did I get myself into?!’… Quick-serve restau­rants tend to be ener­gy hogs, so, to gen­er­ate at least as much ener­gy on-site from renew­able sources as the build­ing uses, the project team had to cut con­sump­tion sig­nif­i­cant­ly. As designed, the build­ing is pro­ject­ed to con­sume 35% less than base­line.. More than any­thing else, that influ­enced the design,’ says Ross Barney…”

The next biggest sav­ings will come from cool­ing, which accounts for about 10 per­cent of the total load. Giv­en the cli­mate, the team deter­mined that, with the right con­di­tions, the restau­rant could oper­ate with­out air con­di­tion­ing 65 per­cent of the year. So the build­ing enve­lope became the focused of their atten­tion: it had to be robust but also trans­par­ent, con­nect­ing din­ers with the wet­land sur­round­ings. A hand­some breath­ing wall’ pro­vides shad­ing and nat­ur­al ven­ti­la­tion. Fixed wood lou­vers are light­ly charred to lim­it main­te­nance, points out Ross Bar­ney (Disney’s Imag­in­ers’, who review all aspects of design projects, deemed tra­di­tion­al shou sugi ban too Darth Vader’). 

Exten­sive oper­a­ble jalousie win­dows are auto­mat­ed through the build­ing man­age­ment sys­tem to close when air-con­di­tion­ing is required. A 6,000-square-foot lanai-like porch, shad­ed by the wood slates-and with 4,8000 square feet of trans­par­ent glass build­ing-inte­grat­ed pho­to­volta­ic pan­els (BIPVs) over­head-pro­vide out­door dining…”

Read the full arti­cle at archi​tec​tural​record​.com.
Explore more of the project here.

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