Daniel Burnham, the man behind the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago and the architect who helped to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871, once said: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood… Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”
So it is only fitting that on the floors above Chicago’s tech hub named after the year of the great fire is the new headquarters for a company so quintessentially American, it has become a part of our very culture.
Motorola Mobility, the wireless company which helped pioneer not only the mobile phone itself, but the subsequent 1G through 4G technologies, has moved into its 600,000 square foot headquarters in the Merchandise Mart. The move has not only solidified Motorola’s renaissance, it has helped to cement Chicago’s position as a global tech hub, a story years in the making.
“We’re creating an iconic tech center in the Midwest that in 5-10 years, people will be able to say, I was part of that, that’s where I started, and that’s where I am right now,” says Jim Wicks, Motorola’s SVP of Consumer Experience Design.
It’s as if a king has reclaimed his throne.
The space induces awe from the moment you walk in. The soaring ceilings and light wall in the lobby are just the beginning. As you walk through the space, you are immediately struck with the finely tuned juxtaposition of the old and new. The incredibly rich history of the company that produced the radio equipment used on the Apollo 11 moon landing is interwoven with contemporary design, from a 30 foot tall LCD wall depicting Chicago’s EL train to a zen garden.
The adventure continues as you walk past the lobby and up a two story wooden stairwell leading to a rooftop deck overlooking the Chicago skyline. Lunch will certainly never be the same.
The microkitchens throughout the space each have a different theme, from the zen and EL kitchens, to an electronics-themed space with interwoven wires creating the ceiling grid and pictures of devices on the wall and a space dedicated to Motorola’s involvement in the Apollo missions.
An entire 70,000 square foot lab space includes everything from a fully built out prototype shop with industrial 3D printers to extensive QA labs which do everything from severely abusing prototypes to testing their sound and antenna strength.
Graffiti graces the stairwells interconnecting the company’s floors and a mailman rides around the floors on an oversized tricycle. From start to finish, the space is a surreal testament to and physical manifestation of the evolution of a global giant.
In the city of big shoulders, the city of dreamers and doers, going big is the only way to go. And the new Motorola space has set a new bar for the kind of staggering scale that truly pays homage to Daniel Burnham’s vision.