In the late 1970’s, McDonald’s purchased a heavily wooded 80 acre site outside of Chicago and held an architectural competition; Lohan Associates was selected to design the new corporate headquarters. Three buildings, a training and meeting center, a lodge, and a corporate office building, were nestled in among the trees, separated by newly created retention lakes and connected by covered bridges. Indoor underground parking has been utilized to minimize site disruption, and the landscaped grounds are open to the public with paths for walking and biking throughout. The conservation of the existing trees was paramount; all construction workers were required to participate in a landscape protection seminar, and the lodge was sited to preserve a large oak tree in its courtyard.

The training center, where McDonald’s franchise owners and managers go for intensive two week training sessions, was the first building completed. The 110,000 sf facility has seminar rooms, classrooms and eight auditoriums. The building has a relaxed atmosphere that is intended to encourage camaraderie among the visiting trainees.

The 225 room lodge was designed as a resort to reinforce the relaxed atmosphere of the training center. It provides accommodations for those attending training sessions and for corporate visitors. The facility has two restaurants, a lounge with a rustic stone fireplace, a swimming pool, and a fitness center. Its setting has also made it popular with the surrounding communities for catered functions.

The 255,000 sf office building is laid out in an open plan with no enclosed offices, including those for the executives. Even the board room walls are glass. Natural light penetrates the interior through sky lights and light wells. In addition to offices, the building contains 25,000 square feet of laboratories and test kitchens on the top floor.

The buildings are designed in a contemporary Prairie style with extensive areas of glass complemented by the use of brick and local field stone inside and out.

Completed: 1980
Architect and Interior Designer: Lohan Associates
Awards: LEED Gold
Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award
Architectural Woodwork Institute Award of Excellence

McDonald’s Office HQ, Oak Brook, Illinois