by Michael Walsh
Chicago’s storied basketball and hockey franchises have completed a major investment in the United Center that will ensure the arena, which opened in 1994, remains one of the nation’s premier sports facilities for decades to come. HOK was the lead architect on the east addition project, with McHugh Construction serving as the general contractor.
The addition seamlessly blends the architecture of the United Center with the existing neighborhood through a modern, transparent design. Inside, the addition features technologically advanced, open-concept workspaces for more than 300 Bulls, Blackhawks and United Center employees. The office upgrades also include new conference rooms, lounges, kitchens, a café and other areas to improve the teams’ collaboration, innovation and teamwork.
“Our new offices give the arena’s employees access to state-of-the-art technology, a fitness center and a collaborative workspace designed to enhance office culture and help our staffs enjoy coming to work even more each day,” said Michael Reinsdorf, president and COO of the Chicago Bulls.
The addition’s atrium is the new home of the United Center’s iconic Michael Jordan statue and will feature a 10,000-sq.-ft. team store to open this summer. The atrium is also scheduled to include a sky lounge and bar to open during the 2017-2018 Bulls/Blackhawks seasons. Additional banquet and dining options and other public areas are slated to open in subsequent seasons.
“The completion of the United Center’s east addition is much more than just new office space for employees and retail space for fans,” said Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz. “It allows us to better engage with our fans through new amenities, and equally important, it highlights our investment and commitment to our community.”
“The United Center continues to lead the industry in its progressive approach to managing, programming and updating their facility to create amazing experiences for staff and fans,” added Micheal Day, HOK’s senior project manager. “This addition is yet another example of the group’s commitment to bringing energy and development to the surrounding neighborhood, an effort HOK has had the pleasure to be involved with over the last two decades.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former players from the Bulls and Blackhawks (including Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and Jamal Mayers) attended a ribbon-cutting officially opening the addition on March 1.