McDonald’s Innovation Center by Studio O+A

McDonald's Innovation Center by Studio O+A

Project: McDonald’s Innovation Center
Architects: Studio O+A
Team: Primo Orpilla, Mindi Weichman, Alex Bautista, Elizabeth Vereker, Paulina McFarland, Kaylen Parker
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Year 2019
Size 16,410 sq ft
Photographer: Garrett Rowland

Every MBA knows the value of a detailed business plan, but a successful business profits, as well, from its detours. The discovery you wouldn’t have made if you hadn’t left the main road is of special value to companies that have been on that road for decades. Many years ago McDonald’s built a detour into its creative infrastructure. This special facility for experimentation became a source of new products, new processes, new thinking that have kept the company at the top of its industry through a period of epochal change. After Studio O+A partnered with McDonald’s on a new corporate headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop, it turned to the Innovation Center for a similarly fresh look at the spaces where fresh looking is the principal activity of the day.

McDonald's Innovation Center by Studio O+A

Wherefore Art Thou, Romeoville?
Romeoville, Illinois is a suburb of Chicago known primarily as a shipping and warehousing hub. Since 2001 it has also been home to McDonald’s Innovation Center, a sprawling complex that serves as the company’s operational test facility. New equipment gets put through its paces here. New kitchen processes are rehearsed and fine-tuned. It’s a space dedicated to keeping McDonald’s at the forefront of innovation, but the center itself hadn’t had a refresh in almost 20 years.

McDonald's Innovation Center by Studio O+A

Breaking Down Barriers
O+A’s first challenge was to pull out the improvised panels and black foam core that had turned the space into “a maze” and create the clear sightlines and uncluttered contexts that visionary work demands. But the barriers removed were not just physical. Over the years it had become the Center’s custom to keep kitchen and office operations separate and their respective staffs apart. The new Center encourages interaction in a shared café, gallery space and phone mezzanine and projects a welcoming brightness everywhere.

workspaces, Studio O+A

The Country Room
When McDonald’s teams from other countries come to the Innovation Center to test drive a new menu, logistics technology or kitchen configuration they need a temporary Central Command. In the old space that was a conference room in a corner far-removed from the kitchen. O+A’s design repositioned it to an area directly adjacent to the action and equipped it with custom pivot doors that allow visiting innovators to run back and forth. Despite the noise of a busy professional kitchen, those doors are almost always open.

interior design, Studio O+A

Lightbulb Moments
For all the ingenuity the Innovation Center has brought to McDonald’s global operation, until now it has never had its own brand logo. O+A graphic designer Paulina McFarland devised a symbol that answered the client’s preference for “a lightbulb,” while suggesting illumination specific to McDonald’s. Surely one of the most remarkable things about this Innovation Center is how successfully, over many years of practice, it has steered creative thinking through the golden arches, how it has made McDonald’s a consistent source of invention and an always relevant leader in its industry.

McDonald's Innovation Center by Studio O+A

McDonald’s Innovation Center by Studio O+A

McDonald’s Innovation Center by Studio O+A

brand logo, graphic designer Paulina McFarland


Newsletter HomeWorldDesign

To be updated with all the latest projects

Most Recent

Most Popular

Two Storey Guadalajara House 1

Two Storey Guadalajara House / Taller 1+1

This Guadalajara house is a single family dwelling that responds to the necessity of a young marriage that obtains a lot in a centric neighborhood of Guadalajara, Mexico. The goal was to provide a practical refugee, with an optimization of the resources.

Historic Railway Building Transformed into Office by Jessica Helgerson

Jessica Helgerson studio recently has moved into new offices in Portland. Located in downtown Portland’s Old Town, our office is situated in the historic Railway...
Newbattle House: Extension of a 19th Century Stable Block to Form an Artist Studio

Newbattle House: Extension of a 19th Century Stable Block to Form an Artist Studio

The project at Newbattle House has seen the renovation and extension of a 19th century stable block to form an artist studio and family garden room. Although the stable building itself is not listed, the adjacent church, former manse and boundary wall are all B-listed meaning a sensitive intervention was required.
Garden Wall House, Sarah Kahn Architect 2

Garden Wall House / Sarah Kahn Architect

The Garden Wall house had to sit alongside the existing studio/garage building, allow for direct entry to the second dwelling from the lane way plus maintain access into the garage and to the studio above whilst retaining sunlight in the existing studio room, where the owner worked.

Moose Rd House: Low Cost, Durability and Environmental Protection

During the realization of the Moose Rd project, Mork Ulnes Architects firm took into account the customers’ desire to harness the surrounding scenery, offered by...

More Articles Like This