Inside the World’s Most Eye-Catching and Sustainable McDonald’s
The new Chicago flagship boasts an energy-efficient kitchen and a floating arboretum
Once the site of the infamously kitschy Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s, a Chicago street corner is now home to one of the most modern locations of the world’s most recognizable fast food chain.
Designed by Chicago-based architect Carol Ross Barney, the new global flagship of McDonald’s was created with sustainability in mind. Composed of steel, glass, and sustainable cross-laminated timber (a first for a commercial building in Chicago), the 19,000-square-foot building is crowned by a bevy of solar panels which will provide nearly 60 percent of the restaurant’s electrical needs. The eatery also boasts on-site renewable energy collection, interior and exterior LED lighting, and an energy-efficient kitchen. The company said that they intend to nominate the building for LEED certification.
The structure’s second floor, which is visible but not accessible to customers, features a floating glass garden of ferns and white birch trees designed by Omni Ecosystems. The nod to nature continues throughout the space, with a wall of living plants suspended inside the restaurant and a dedicated vegetated roof space. Native and drought resilient plants were used throughout the location’s landscape along with permeable pavers which minimize irrigation and reduce storm water runoff.
The new location, which is at the intersection of Clark and Ontario Streets, boasts 27-foot tall ceilings, as well as a fleet of electronic kiosks, where customers can place their orders.
McDonald’s announced a shift in their global branding last year, with a concept they called “Experience the Future,” part of which included creating a “more modern, more exciting restaurant environment.” The company has already modernized 5,000 of its locations and plans to update 1,000 more in the next quarter.
“This is one of the most amazing McDonald’s restaurants I’ve ever seen and a great fit for this iconic location,” said the franchise’s owner Nick Karavites. “I know Chicago will be as proud as I am to have this one-of-a-kind restaurant in our great city.”