when mcdonald’s decided to relocate to a 9-story building in chicago’s west loop, the company envisioned a new headquarters that would speak to an increasingly urban and health-conscious culture. to make the move an architectural event worthy of its business impact, mcdonald’s hired not one, but two design firms — IA interior architects and studio O+A — to turn a lean, light-infused shell constructed by gensler into a ‘celebration of the company’s spirit.’

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
the reception area gives a subtle nod to the golden arches | all images by garrett rowland



the new head office for mcdonald’s has been conceived as part corporate HQ, and part cultural center, school, and history museum. classic work areas and meeting rooms designed by IA interior architects interact with work areas designed by studio O+A that have the look and feel of hospitality venues. according to the design team, every architectural gesture functions on its own and in partnership with the spaces around it.

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
a dynamic promenade is laid out like a museum or gallery space



each the headquarters’ nine stories has been conceived as a ‘chapter’ that unfolds floor by floor. a multidirectional staircase in the building’s central atrium provides a striking focal point and an avenue for casual interaction, but also creates escher-esque sensation of moving forward in many directions at once. here, a giant art work by jacob hashimoto cascades downwards, comprising hundreds of his signature miniature ‘kites’.

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
vintage penny crushers and other memorabilia are on display



‘shared spaces up and down that atrium spell out the story,’ explains the design team. ‘every floor evokes a specific element of mcdonald’s success — the kitchen, the flavors, the people and the communities. and every floor celebrates innovation.’ the offices accommodate a variety of work styles, providing a diverse array of settings for casual interactions or more formal meetings. staff can utilize a range of private and shared areas designed to promote productivity and efficiency.

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
happy meal toys have been proudly put on display

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
a range of seating areas are providing throughout

mcdonald's chicago HQ features a fast food museum and a giant jacob hashimoto installation
glowing back-lit lacquer panels and custom resin-cast pieces celebrate the brand’s packaging

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
a giant art work by jacob hashimoto fills the building’s atrium space

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
the piece comprises hundreds of hashimoto’s signature ‘kites’

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
a tiered seating area serves as a break out space to work or socialize

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
doors open out onto a rooftop terrace

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
the work cafe terrace offers views of the chicago skyline

mcdonalds headquarters chicago
the office is contained within a 9-story building in chicago’s west loop



project info:


name: mcdonald’s HQ
type of space: office
client name: mcdonald’s
interior design by: studio O+A (lobbys, lounges, cafes, environmental branding) and IA interior architects (atrium stairs, workplace design, test kitchens)
O+A team: primo orpilla, perry stephney, elizabeth vereker, tari pelaez, alex bautista, paulina mcfarland, jill gentles, donald koide, kristina cho
IA interior architects team: ruben gonzalez, neil schneider, adrienne harbarger, nick mosher, maggie schroeder, anne nilsson, cara rooney, carolyn tucker, gary bouthillette, julie maggos, christine lai, ruby lopez-torres, brandon olsen, bryan yu, tj smoczynski
base building architecture: gensler
project location: chicago, IL
date of occupancy: june 4, 2018
phase 1 square footage: 480,000
floors: 8 floors
specified manufacterers: allermuir, andreu world, arktura, camira, carnegie, coalesse, designtex, dooge veneer, ECI, filzfelt, HBF, icon modern, interface, KSA, leviathan, maharam, martin brattrud, mash studios, moss retail & environments, nucraft, office revolution, parenti & raffaelli INC, the penny press company, PG enlighten, skyline design, studio TK, tandus centiva, teknion, USG, waveguide
photography: garrett rowland