After more than 45 years in Oak Brook, Illinois, McDonald’s folded up those golden arches and brought their global campus of nearly 2,000 corporate employees to Chicago. The vision came from CEO Steve Easterbrook, who had made it a long-term goal to attract top talent and provide a more collaborative work environment. With Chicago’s top restaurants and increasing count of millennial and entrepreneurs in the Fulton Market / the West Loop area, it’s no surprise that Easterbook chose the heart of the neighborhood for McDonald’s HQ campus.
Included in the 600,000+ square foot building is a “Hamburger University” for management training, a test kitchen / lab to experiment on new sandwiches and sauces, fitness center, outdoor terraces, and employee cafe complete with stadium seating. The office was designed to promote collaboration and flexibility for staff to work in a changing environment that best fits their changing needs. To make this vision a reality, the designers and architects worked with McDonald’s to transition into a ‘neighborhood’ work environment, offering communal areas such as public tables, non-designated workstations, phone rooms, personal lockers, 300+ conference rooms / huddle rooms, and a company conference center with a 700+ person capacity. The new McDonald’s HQ is equipped with virtually any video presentation capability. Our personal favorite is the McCafe with a barista-style coffee bar. Similar to the new Apple flagship store on Michigan Avenue, the space is designed to include cement floors, glass accents, and even a tech bar for IT assistance.
Even with the above changes, McDonald’s was careful to remember the past. Included is a museum of one of the first restaurants with original uniforms and kitchen equipment. Also, a display of hundreds of the most popular Happy Meal toys is displayed at one of the entryways.
The campus wouldn’t be complete without a McDonald’s HQ restaurant. Located on the first floor, the restaurant will showcase an international menu, which will rotate favorites from McDonald’s global menu’s (the Prestigio McFlurry from Brazil is one of my favorites). Guests can monitor the rotating menu by watching small golden arches above and illuminate over a corresponding country on a world map projected on one of the walls. As one of the next-generation restaurants, it will offer table service, self-service kiosks and mobile ordering (dedicated curbside pickup for mobile orders and Uber Eats). To promote community involvement, the space offers private meeting areas that are free of charge and available for reservation to the public.
Staff began relocating to their new campus last month. The $250 million building, where Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios once stood, was built by Sterling Bay. See the pictures below (credit to McDonald’s Corporation).
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