CME Center (Chicago Mercantile Exchange)

10 + 30 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL

Situated on a full city block between two busy commuter walkways, the building has no true front face. In use since the 1980s, multiple lobbies required a person to exit and re-enter the building to reach destinations within, and 18 separate entrance doors, planters, bike racks, slopes, ramps, and turnstiles created barriers that further confused circulation. Once inside the space, much of the lobby and retail spaces lacked access to daylight, creating a dark, uninspiring experience.

The fundamental use of the lobby was reconceived from being simply a way to get to the elevators, to an inspiring space dedicated to gathering and community, with informal flexible spaces that are both convenient and comfortable. 

Building in the heart of downtown Chicago with one side bordering a river creates obvious challenges. The construction must progress with the entire building operational with 10,000 people entering and exiting the building every work day. We studied the movement of people through the lobby and the entire ground level. The new sinuous storefront glass is a direct result of this study.


The new curved façade line moves outward to flow around the building cores, providing serpentine circulation between the buildings and a geometry that encourages a greater connection to the street. Behind the simple and minimal materials lies a sophisticated system of modular geometries in an engineering feat.


Photography: Kendall McCaugherty / Hall + Merrick Photographers


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