In 2014, McDonalds announced a series of sustainability goals, called the McDonalds Global Sustainability Framework. Aspects of this plan included changes in the sourcing of beef and coffee, an emphasis on recycling, increased energy efficiency, and the introduction of more fruits and vegetables to the menu. McDonalds’ new flagship location, unveiled earlier this month, is a three-dimensional representation of these initiatives.
Located in River North, the new structure is built on the site of the previous flagship, which in turn was built on the site of the old Rock N’ Roll McDonalds. Designed by Ross Barney Architects, the new flagship is a three-story modernist glass jewel box situated within a white steel frame supporting a canopy of solar panels. Further enclosed within the building is a floating garden, which is flanked by a vertical canopy of live plants. There is a landscaped public plaza, parking lot, and drive through, all laid with gray permeable pavers.
Each design decision (solar panels, permeable pavement, living walls) carries a strong implication of environmental friendliness (the building is LEED certified, of course), reifying McDonalds’ corporate ethos of sustainability. Situated in a busy tourist district, this building will serve as a convincing advertisement for the values McDonalds is trying to project moving ever forward into the 21st Century.