This past week, we welcomed the WMA Consulting Engineers to the Salas O’Brien family. WMA’s outstanding work, commitment to sustainability, and reputation for reliability make them an ideal addition to our team.

One example of the team’s impressive work is the McDonald’s Corporation Headquarters, built in 2018 in Chicago’s West Loop. McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook says he hopes the company’s move back to Chicago will better connect the company to its customers and add to the growth of the West Loop neighborhood.

Our team designed the MEP/FP systems and security systems and coordinated commissioning for the fast food chain’s new downtown corporate office space. This $250 million project was a massive and fast-paced undertaking. Schematic design began in October of 2016 and McDonalds moved in April of 2018.

The 480,000-square-foot headquarters includes two separate lobbies on Randolph and Carpenter Streets. The Randolph lobby is dedicated to Hamburger University, McDonald’s training center, which is housed on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Hamburger University was founded in 1961 by Fred Turner, a former McDonald’s grillman turned senior chairman. Over 80,000 restaurant managers, mid-managers, and owner/operators have graduated from Hamburger University since then.

The new university complex includes conference areas, training facilities, collaboration spaces and 18 test kitchens, complete with food laboratories and sensory rooms to experiment, produce, and test existing and new menu items.

The test kitchens are fully functional kitchens with exhaust hoods, fryers, grills, ovens, prep areas, sculleries, and walk-in coolers and freezers. WMA designed the MEP/FP systems for the test kitchens and pantries, including domestic hot water, kitchen waste piping, domestic water systems, ventilation, exhaust systems, food composting systems, grease collection system, and electrical support systems.

As part of McDonald’s efforts to create a sustainable new building, the company composts all waste from their test kitchens. In addition, the building is LEED-certified and features a green roof.

The rest of this nine-story building includes both open and private offices, nearly 300 conference rooms, a 700-person conference center, a work cafe with stadium seating for employees, huddle spaces, a tech bar for IT assistance, memorabilia displays,outdoor terraces with views of the city, and a public restaurant featuring rotating menu items from McDonald’s locations around the world.

The impressive finished headquarters will help McDonald’s safely and sustainably test new products, train new owners, and connect with their customer base in the Chicago West Loop neighborhood and beyond.