When the Chicago-headquartered International Interior Design Association (IIDA) moved their headquarters from the art and design epicenter at River North and the Mart to the Mies van der Rohe-designed One Illinois Center at Michigan and Wacker a few years ago (now adjacent to the Chicago Architecture Center), the new location put them at the heart of public engagement, culture and commerce.
Collaborating with allied professions comprises part of their goal to humanize design’s societal impact. This alliance was seen this past fall when IIDA co-sponsored sessions of the annual conference of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). More recently, partnering with the American Institute of Architects, (AIA-Chicago), the IIDA launched the series “Designers and Architects Talk,” addressing topics of commercial design, including firm leadership and project strategy across allied disciplines. Event moderator John Czarnecki, IIDA’s deputy director and senior vice-president, explained the purpose of the series: “We want to bring the design and architecture community into the space,” referencing the environs as a metaphor for collaborative discussion.
The panel series kicked off with iconic multinational fast-food corporation McDonald’s headquarters relocation to the inner city. The McDonald’s move is epitomized programmatically and conceptually by the project‘s mantra “Deliver Simple Moments that Make You Smile,” said Tish Kruse, IA Interior Architects, principal and director of workplace strategies. Kruse reviewed a three-pronged approach to design for employee cross–pollination of ideas. The panel included additional creative guests and team members, including Primo Orpilla, principal, Studio O+A (graphic communication), Scott Phillips, McDonald’s director of workplace management, Neil Schneider, principal IA Interior Architects (interior design), and Grant Uhlir, co-regional managing principal, Gensler (architecture).
Phillips echoed the McDonald’s strategy for an employee cultural shift to “work, play and team together” and identified challenges associated with customizing their HQ in a Sterling Bay speculative development that was under construction. Relocating the HQ to the Fulton Street Market, formerly Chicago’s food-processing corridor, was deliberate. Today, the area is a thriving neighborhood hub of restaurant innovation. McDonald’s footprint has extended its design reach into the community as the Hamburger University entrance is strategically positioned on Randolph Street, where the food industry flourishes amongst a mash-up of public venue, entrepreneurship, residential and big business.
Yetta Starr, IIDA, is the founding principal of Starr Design Associates, Inc., a commercial interior design practice specializing in showroom, workplace, education, scientific and civic interiors as well as exhibits and visual communication projects. Starr has a passion for engaging with community-based initiatives supporting cultural identity and economic development. She is a contributing writer to print and online publications, reporting on industry trends and design’s impact on the human experience.
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