McDonalds Cycle Center at Millennium Park / Muller&Muller


Architect: Muller&Muller, Ltd
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Client: City of Chicago Department of Transportation
Program : parking for 300 bikes / bike repair and parts shop / showers and lockers / Chicago bicycle police station / portable cafe / bike rental
Project Area: 1,486 sqm
Budget: US $3,000,000
Photographs: Nathan Kirkman & Robert Murphy

bathing lacker-rooml park-elev-night randolph-st-level

This project was constructed on three levels on top of and below the northwest corner of Chicago’s Millennium Park. The facility includes secure storage space for 300 bicycles, individual day use lockers, private shower stalls, and a bike repair area. The purpose of the new facility is to encourage and promote commuter bicycle transit into downtown Chicago. The building also houses the Chicago lakefront bicycle patrol and rents bikes for hourly use.


A glass-enclosed atrium links the two upper levels and gives a street presence to the mostly below- grade facility. The atrium, though small, provides a grand entry for the building. Its shell is designed to be energy efficient, incorporating natural ventilation, visible rooftop photo voltaic panels, and wall shading devices composed of fabric awnings and climbing plant material. The bike station has been constructed within the constraints of an existing parking garage structure which forms the base of Millennium Park. Interior bike station spaces are designed to maximize the limited headroom provided by this garage structure. Much of the space is below grade so lighting, colors and materials were chosen to provide a bright playful contemporary space avoiding the oppressive sense of being underground. The multiple levels of the project site also presented the problem of moving bikes up and down. This obstacle was overcome by incorporating gentle ramps into the edges of low incline stairs.

general section
general section


Plazas were added at two levels to accommodate retail /cafe functions and overflow bike parking for special events. The atrium structure was designed with an outer shell of stainless cables on which climbing plants will grow. Once mature, the plants will provide sun shading in the summer and will drop their leaves in winter to allow in the warming sun. The outer layers of the skin are created with combinations of loose planes floating around the inner, more solid shell. The building dissolves as it moves outward. Plants growing on the building are treated like building materials. They will be tightly cropped into solid mats of growth taking on geometric architectural forms allowing the building to change its appearance over time. Vines grow to cover more of the building, flowers bloom and recede, and leaves drop revealing the building’s structure. The Bike Station becomes part of the park by using the park’s own material as its cladding.

Cite: "McDonalds Cycle Center at Millennium Park / Muller&Muller" 09 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Pio

    It is encouraging to see such investment in thoughtful urban infrastructure – even more so when it is sensitively scaled and rigorously detailed. One would hope that this building demonstrates its viability as a type that could be utilized throughout urban areas nationwide. Imagine a city the size of Chicago with a dense network of cycle centers. A dramatic transformation of the city as we know it would occur. Great work.

  • PB

    I like the concepts, but the placement of the building (while most likely constrained by existing structures) seems to remove it pretty far from any street or pathway. Being that the building is a bike repository, it needs to accommodate pedestrians at least (if not better) as well as it accommodates bicycle. Part of this would mean making a building that is clearly identifiable as a destination (I need to walk there) and identifiable to people who might not be used to using it (such as renters, tourists and new users), but much of this building seems to be obscured by the existing structure and park (which might make it difficult to see or find).

    Again, I think the form and the concept are strong and beautiful, and I applaud the city for having a project such as this. I think having a bike parking garage would/will make biking to work more attractive to many people.

    • EL

      I think the location, being directly adjacent to the Pritzker Pavilion, makes it a clearly identifiable destination. A bicycle receptacle doesn’t need to be monumental and dramatic; the quaintness of the structure is a nice reminder of the minimal impact that riding a bike has on the environment. The structure is following suit of its contents, while still being sleek and fashionable. I think it’s a great addition to an already fantastic park.

    • Derek

      PB, I’m having a bit of trouble understanding your criticism. I believe the center does a great job of being easily identifiable and a snap to use–particularly with ample use of ramps. As far as your issue with accessibility… it leads directly onto East Randolph, so I’m not sure what more we could ask for.

      • PB

        Maybe my understanding from the models and drawings is lacking. Also, I like the modest exposed structure, just from looking at the section and the drawings presented it seems to be behind/above/below a lot while not addressing pedestrian access as much as bicycle.

        As for the building being a “reminder of the minimal impact that riding a bike has on the environment,” there is hardly anything minimal about the building except for what is exposed above ground. This is not a critique of the building, but of the above critique.

        Furthermore, the embodied energy of constructing the building and the energy consumed in its operation will also negate much of the benefit of biking to DT Chicago in the first place. (Again, I agree with the project, but it is not a minimal or “low impact” project).

        I think many elements of the project are highly successful (such as those listed below), and think both the concept and design of the building are wonderful, I just worry about its operation as I don’t feel the movement from space to space and the connection to surrounding elements is clear from THE DRAWINGS PRESENTED.

  • PB

    also, bringing the bikes into storage seems kind of tortured…maybe some diagrams or better sections would help.

  • StructureHub Blog

    This facility is strikingly modest, relative to the “statement projects” that surround it. I think this is a good thing, frankly, in part because the modesty befits its purpose – as a utilitarian storage unit catering primarily to residents/commuters, and less so to tourists.

    Having said that, the design is as well-done as it is modest; the two-floor main volume is a practical means of getting light into the lower spaces and good way to prevent a dark, small warren-like spaces from dominating the floor plan. Similarly, the small-portion of outwardly visible square-footage, combined with ample landscaping surrounding the glass box, prevent the structure from distracting people from and clashing with the “main event” of the park – the Pritzker Pavilion.

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  • Bicycle servicing

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