The Big Ten Conference Headquarters features offices for 40 employees, conferencing space, an officiating command center, and the Big Ten Experience, a multimedia attraction celebrating the organization’s rich history.
The contemporary design balances the Conference’s collegiate athletics identity with that of a corporate headquarters, interpreting Chicago’s architectural legacy via form and materials. Warm terracotta rain screen panels are juxtaposed with the strength and crisp lines of expressed structure. Columns at the front court entrance, also clad in terracotta, support a green roof canopy and provide a dramatic welcome. A two-story glass wall showcases Big Ten branding inside.
The location in a busy commercial area near O’Hare proved challenging. How does one create a peaceful workplace and project the Conference’s image amidst so much noise? After an acoustic study, the team modified glazing systems to mitigate the intrusion of aircraft sounds on meeting spaces. The location within MB Financial Park was key, however, with access to hotels, restaurants, and O’Hare nearby. And the 50,000 SF facility is double the headquarter’s previous size, allowing it to host more than 130 meetings annually.
Sustainable features include high-performance curtainwall systems, occupancy sensors, large windows for daylighting, and vegetated roofing materials to minimize heat gain.
Integrating a first-floor public restaurant presented another challenge and required dedicated pathways from rooftop mechanical equipment, and managing sound and odor transfer between the restaurant and meeting spaces above.
This project is distinguished by its safety record: after 87,500 work hours, the incident rate was 39.5% below the national average.
RATIO Architects, Inc.
Leopardo Companies, Inc.