Earlier this year, Chicago's iconic Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's, complete with its signature oversized golden arches, was demolished in preparation for construction of a sleek, eco-friendly “store of the future.” Since it first opened as a tourist attraction in 1983, the site has been one of the most famous McDonald's locations in the world and was once the busiest in the United States.
The original building was torn down and replaced in 2005; and the newly updated restaurant will abandon the rock ‘n’ roll theme, reuse the old building's kitchen and deploy design elements (such as solar panels) to improve energy efficiency. Curbed Chicago reports that "the theme of sustainability continues with living fern walls, a cross laminated timber structural system, and a mini-orchard of harvestable apple trees visible though a clerestory window." McDonald’s evolving design philosophy is said to be the company's latest measure to remain fresh and relevant.
In an interview with Chicago Magazine, Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald's U.S. operations said “With all of the moves we make, whether with our new headquarters or with the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s, we’re making a statement about our company and our brand and the culture we’re trying to create." The old flagship’s Rock 'N' Roll theme looked back to celebrate McDonald’s heritage, he says: “The statement we’re making with the new restaurant is much more forward-looking.”
Elements of the new River North flagship will eventually be rolled out across the country.