January 18, 2022
No. 27 in our celebratory countdown of our Top 100 projects is Epstein’s largest public sector project: McCormick Place Convention Center’s South Hall in Chicago.
This hallmark project was designed to improve the exhibit space of McCormick Place and attract and accommodate trade and consumer show users. The foremost goal of the South Hall was to provide a major new exhibit space that maintains the high standard that has given McCormick Place its premier position in the trade show industry. The Mc3D team, the joint-venture team that Epstein was the lead architect and engineer for, was chosen to create a design that would provide the necessary facilities for accomplishing the Metropolitan Pier and Exhibition Authority's goals. Epstein and the team succeeded in developing a state-of-the-art exhibition hall and Grand Concourse that is functional, exciting and inviting.
The design scheme created a space at the time that provided Chicago with the largest contiguously functioning exhibit venue in the country. The new South Hall, at 840,000 square feet, and Grand Concourse, at 53,873 square feet, combined with new space in the North Hall, 40,000 square feet, added to the McCormick Place a total of 960,000 square feet of new exhibit area all on one level. Locating the new Exhibition Hall at the same elevation as the Grand Concourse and North Hall resulted in more than 1.2 million square feet of truly contiguous exhibit floor. Taking into account the existing exhibit space in the East Hall, when completed in 1997, McCormick Place offered 1,600,000 square feet of exhibition space. Also located within the South are meeting rooms, totaling 156,500 square feet, including a 33,000-square-foot ballroom for black tie functions or assemblies of up to 3,000 people.
The Galleria accommodates the functional requirements of registration, exhibition and circulation. In addition, it unifies all three major facilities - East Hall, North Hall and South Hall - and serves as an orientation and arrival point for visitors to the city. McCormick Place, including service and support space, is a 2 million plus square foot facility.
One important aspect of the design was the upgrading and relocation of the infrastructure at and adjacent to the McCormick Place facility. This work included the design and construction administration services for the water distribution (12-inch through 36-inch diameter ductile iron pipe). A water crossing of the I.C.G.R.R. required auger/tunneling of a 54-inch casing through an old rock- filled timber crib sea wall. The project also included a 200,000 cubic foot reinforced concrete stormwater storage reservoir below the building and a 750,000 gallon reinforced concrete fire protection water storage reservoir below grade.