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McCormick Place

Event Center

Project Description

This project adds a mid-size venue that doubles as an arena for DePaul University basketball to McCormick Place, the country’s largest convention center. The new event center is part of a redevelopment plan to transform the surrounding neighborhood into a vibrant entertainment district with new dining and entertainment venues, hotels and streetscapes. The building’s design is contemporary, but it grows from a study of the adjacent neighborhoods. Therefore, the arena has four “fronts” of varying transparency and a scale befitting the historic Prairie Avenue neighborhood.

Project Stats


Chicago, Illinois

Year of Completion


Square Footage


Project Gallery

Design Features

The event center’s main design feature is an inventive roof, or 5th façade, that swells upward over the arena seating, recalling some of Chicago’s great gathering spaces like Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Theater, the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom and Union Station. The roof is a landmark and will be seen from taller structures downtown and around the site. Moody Nolan has refined the original design concepts created by Pelli Clarke Pelli to be within the budget constraints set by Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA).

The arena’s main entrance is located on the site’s most public spot, at the corner of prominent streets Cermak and Indiana. The building’s many transparent facades help to create an architecture of experience in which the activity energy and excitement of the arena is felt around the site on the street.