McDonald's HQ in Chicago includes Hamburger University for new recruits
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

McDonald's HQ in Chicago includes Hamburger University for new recruits

Fast-food company McDonald's has moved into a new headquarters in Chicago, where employees have access to a multitude of workspaces and new hires are enrolled in a collegiate experience.

When McDonald's made the decision to transplant from it home of 47 years in Oak Brook to a nine-storey building in the West Loop, the company enlisted Studio O+A and IA Interior Architects to rethink its work culture and environment.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

Occupying 480,000 square feet (44,600 square metres) of a Gensler-designed building, the headquarters is intended to cater for today's changing work and life styles.

"McDonald's envisioned a new HQ that would speak to an increasingly urban and health-conscious culture," said a statement from the design team.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

The two studios divided up the areas of the interior that they were responsible for. Studio O+A took charge of the lobbies, lounges, cafes and environmental branding, while IA completed the atrium stairs, workplace design and test kitchens.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

"Like co-authors joining forces on one big story, IA and O+A turned each floor into a chapter," said McDonald's.

From Carpenter Street, employees and visitors enter into a reception area with arched wooden openings – suggestive of the Golden Arches logo – and mesh screens reminiscent of frying baskets.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

Towards the elevators, planting is integrated into the walls behind a seating area. A sculpture by artist Jessica Stockholder made entirely of kitchen hardware hangs over the sofas and chairs.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

At the core of the building, a grand staircase criss-crosses an atrium, dodging a sculpture of suspended acrylic disks by Jacob Hashimoto. The stairs connect the various levels of office spaces and meeting rooms, each created to accommodate the needs of a diverse workforce.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

"A multidirectional staircase in the building's central atrium provides a striking focal point and an avenue for casual interaction, but also symbolises the MC Escher-esque sensation of moving forward in many directions at once," McDonald's said.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

The entrance from Randolph Street provides access to the Hamburger University – a training facility where newly hired staff can learn more about the 64-year-old brand.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

Recruits are greeted by a large white reception desk in front of a timber-clad wall, which curves to meet the ceiling and mirrors the same feature above a lounge space opposite.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

A mesh screen is decorated with the faces of "McDonald's innovators", who have made notable contributions to the company throughout its history.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

A collegiate aesthetic is evoked with design elements like a shield that resembles french fries and digital frames filled with class members' portraits – similar to a yearbook.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

Elsewhere, a cafeteria features wooden bleacher-style seating that faces the views through double-height glazing. Employees can also take advantage of ample roof terraces, dotted with outdoor seating and shading pergolas.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

Overall, the interior palette is contemporary and neutral, with splashes of primary colours on upholstery, felt acoustic pads, and architectural details.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

McDonald's is using its home city as a test-bed for new ideas. Last year, the company replaced its iconic restaurant in the River North neighbourhood with a design that boasted several green credentials and was compared by some to Apple stores.

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A

Other architecturally experimental spaces that the company has rolled out over the past few years include a restaurant in Hong Kong with concrete tables and atmospheric lighting, and a branch in Rotterdam that features a golden facade and a spiral staircase.

Photography is by Garrett Rowland.

Project credits:

Interior design: Studio O+A (lobbies, 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
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, Sancal, Skyline Design, Studio TK, Tandus Centiva, Teknion, USG, Waveguide

More images

McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A
McDonald's Headquarters by IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A