McDonald’s Chicago Flagship / Ross Barney Architects
Text description provided by the architects. 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” McDonalds that emphasized drive-through services. The new design re-balances car-pedestrian traffic creating a city oasis where people can eat, drink and meet. Green space is expanded over 400%, producing a new park-like amenity for a dense area of the city.
A generous solar pergola visually unites the restaurant into a single volume. Beneath this “big roof”, indoor dining areas, contained in a pure glass box, are seamlessly connected to outdoor spaces. The new kitchen reuses the footprint and structure of the previous store and comprises a second concrete clad box. 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 sustainability 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 stormwater runoff and the heat island effect. The building is designed to achieve LEED Platinum performance.