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Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects selected for McCormick Place expansion

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects selected for McCormick Place expansion

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects selected for McCormick Place expansion

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Sept. 22, 2013) — Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects will design the new events center for McCormick Place, adding a new 10,000-seat arena for DePaul University basketball to the landmark Chicago convention center. The firm’s concept design, in which the events center has transparent façades crowned by a gently curving, skylit roof, was selected by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the City of Chicago, and DePaul University in a design competition.

The events center’s main design feature is an inventive roof that swells upward over the arena seating, recalling some of Chicago’s great public rooms like Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Theater and the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, but with a highly contemporary expression. The smooth, arching canopy has long curving skylights to let in natural light during the day and project event lighting out and up in the evening. At night especially, the pattern of skylights will create an instantly recognizable image for the new events center.

In the winning design, PCPA revealed the arena itself from the site’s most public spot, the corner of prominent streets Cermak and Indiana. This placement helps to create an architecture of experience in which the activity energy and excitement of the arena is felt on the street. The events center’s facades are lightweight glass curtain walls, making the dramatic roof appear to float high above the sidewalk and its interior visible from the street. The arena seating parts at the southwest corner, offering passersby a glimpse of the events inside, as well as the Demon Deck—a section seats for DePaul Blue Demon fans.

The event level of the arena is one story below street level, putting all the activity of the Main Concourse adjacent to the sidewalks. Some of the events center’s amenities may be accessible directly from the street. The arena project is part of a redevelopment plan to transform the neighborhood around McCormick Place into a vibrant entertainment district with new dining and entertainment venues, hotels and streetscapes. The events center portion is expected to be completed in November 2016.

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