Leading architecture firm selected to design “striking, imaginative and innovative” event center on McCormick Place campus.


September 23, 2013  

Mary Kay Marquisos

CHICAGO - The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) today announced the selection of internationally-renowned architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli to design a 10,000-seat event center at McCormick Place that will host general sessions for large conventions and trade shows and DePaul University basketball.

Pelli Clarke Pelli, based in New Haven, Connecticut, has designed some of the world's most recognized buildings, including the World Financial Center in New York, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong.

"We have designed a light, luminous event center that we hope will be a good neighbor and a dynamic expression of the events that it will house," said Fred Clarke, FAIA, senior principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. "Its gently arching roof, visible from surrounding buildings and streets, will tie architecture to the image of DePaul basketball and McCormick Place events."

The MPEA Board's decision today followed a two-phase Request for Proposals (RFP) process that sought "professionally respected and admired design architects" known for "striking, imaginative and innovative buildings" that "generate public enthusiasm and become major urban attractions." MPEA asked that the facility be "sensitive and accommodating" to the surrounding neighborhood. A nine-member evaluation committee oversaw the process, with three representatives each from MPEA, the City of Chicago and DePaul.

Announced last May by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and MPEA, the new building will house large business and professional meetings and DePaul University men's and women's basketball. It also will serve as a venue for concerts and special events. Scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016, it will be a key feature of the planned McCormick Place Entertainment District, which also will include a 1,200-room hotel to serve as the headquarters for conventions and trade shows, a 500-room mid-market hotel and venues for dining and entertainment.

MPEA CEO Jim Reilly said Pelli Clarke Pelli struck the balance between designing a building that will be significant from an architectural standpoint but also complement McCormick Place and the surrounding neighborhood.

"The dynamic yet elegant design created by Pelli Clarke Pelli for the event center fits perfectly into the fabric of the community," Reilly said. "The firm's innovative design provides a functional and flexible space that will make the event center a wonderful complement to the convention center. The quality and distinction of this design will support our goal of attracting new business and serve as a catalyst to further enhance the economic vitality of the South Loop."

"To ensure Chicago remains the country's most customer-friendly business and sports destination, continued enhancements to our facilities are critical," said Don Welsh, President and CEO of Choose Chicago. "Thanks to permanent reforms at McCormick Place, we have made significant progress in improving the customer experience. Meeting planners who never considered Chicago are now taking a second look. The addition of the event center will allow Chicago to offer a comprehensive and flexible package allowing for new jobs and tax revenues, which ultimately have a direct effect on our economic prosperity."

"We are delighted that Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects has been selected to design the city's new events center," said The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., President of DePaul University. "Pelli architects were terrific about addressing faculty input into the final design of DePaul's Theatre School, and in projecting an accurate budget. I am confident Pelli Clarke Pelli will design an equally special events center that will make the South Loop proud."

About the MPEA:

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority owns McCormick Place, the largest exhibition and meeting facility in North America, and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel. Together, the North, South and West Buildings and Lakeside Center offer 2.6 million square feet of exhibition space. Located along Chicago's lakefront, McCormick Place features 173 meeting rooms, the 4,249-seat Arie Crown Theater and one of the largest ballrooms in the world.

Photos: To download renderings, please visit:

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