MPEA issues RFI for ‘re-imagination’ of Lakeside Center 

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

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The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the redevelopment of all or part of Lakeside Center, the east building of McCormick Place, North America’s largest convention center.

Responses to the RFI are due by Dec. 22.

“It is an exciting time not just for MPEA, but for Chicago and Illinois as well,” said Larita Clark, MPEA CEO. “This RFI provides an unprecedented opportunity for developers, innovators, and architects to reimagine an iconic building on Chicago’s coveted Lake Michigan shoreline. MPEA is confident this process will result in many incredible ideas that will complement our existing business, the neighborhood, and the Museum Campus and provide new tax revenue streams for the city and state.”

MPEA is seeking ideas for new technology, innovations, or attractions to maximize Lakeside Center’s potential and economic impact.

The RFI is seeking ideas that complement existing business and support its mission to attract trade shows, conventions, meetings, expositions, and public events. The ideal development will provide new revenue stream(s) for MPEA’s operating budget and generate additional economic impact for the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.

Submissions must also be designed with sustainability as a core value, reflect a commitment to supplier and workforce diversity, and align with standing MPEA campus labor agreements. An ideal concept will also be complementary to the vision presented by the City of Chicago Museum Campus Working Group.

“MPEA is open to a variety of financial models, including but not limited to revenue sharing or annual payments. The ideal projects will support MPEA’s mission of creating economic impact and generating taxes for the City and State,” the RFI states.

Designed by architects Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn of C.F. Murphy Associates, Lakeside Center is among the most recognizable and striking buildings along Chicago’s lakefront and has long served as a crucial economic driver for the region.

The building holds 580,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space across two halls, 141,000 square feet of meeting space including 40 meeting rooms and a 45,000-square-foot ballroom, landscaped outdoor terraces, and the 4,192-seat Arie Crown Theater. It is also home to McCormick Place’s 30,000-square-foot commercial kitchen that serves the entire campus.

There are currently more than 250 events scheduled in Lakeside Center and the Arie Crown Theater through 2035.  

“While Lakeside Center is a core component of our campus, we are always looking for ways to increase our impact,” Clark said. “We truly hope that submissions consider Lakeside Center a blank canvas in this process and that we receive innovative submissions that will add to this building’s remarkable legacy.” 

MPEA is open to all ideas from all interested parties. The ideal concept will align with MPEA’s mission to attract trade shows, conventions, and events while increasing MPEA’s economic impact. Additionally, the project should show a strong commitment to sustainability, supplier and workforce diversity, and fair labor practices.

“On behalf of our city, I am thrilled to see MPEA take this exciting step,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This initiative aligns with the great work completed by the Museum Campus Working group to reimagine and embolden this important area of our city.”  

The site is minutes from  the Field Museum of Natural History, Soldier Field, the Shedd Aquarium, Millennium Park, and Chicago’s downtown business district, Lakeside Center is a unique redevelopment opportunity.

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