NeoCon Unveils Exciting New Outdoor Environment: NeoCon Plaza

Rendering of the NeoCon Plaza – © Gensler – Michael Townsend (artist, design director, Gensler Chicago)

A Focus on Outdoor Workspace Design in Programming, Products & More June 10–12, 2019

NeoCon, the world’s leading platform for commercial design, serves as an annual resource for trade professionals and C-Suite executives to stay abreast of what’s new in the industry. To further enhance the NeoCon experience and address the next frontier of flexible workplaces, the 51st edition will mark the launch of the NeoCon Plaza, a new outdoor amenity space that spans the length of The Mart’s South Drive. Designed by Gensler Chicago and brought to life in collaboration with Forward Fruit Branded Environments, it will offer visitors a place to connect, collaborate, relax, recharge and unwind and enjoy the outdoors, with a backdrop featuring sweeping views of the Chicago River, Riverwalk, and Chicago cityscape. The NeoCon Plaza will be complemented by product introductions and programming throughout the overall show, offering attendees valuable insight into the importance of outdoor spaces for work and other commercial environments.

According to Todd Heiser, Managing Director and Principal of Gensler Chicago, “An effective workplace is critical, but it’s no longer enough. Employees want, and expect, an excellent experience at work, which means spaces with high levels of choice, variety and balance. Adding an outdoor element is another step in the evolution of choice and it is with this philosophy that we approached the NeoCon Plaza.”

Watch Process Video of NeoCon Plaza Rendering here.

Inspired by the idea of “The Urban Boardwalk”, the NeoCon Plaza provides a welcome outdoor oasis. Along the meandering boardwalk, which was built by Skender Construction, guests will find different sheltered and unsheltered spaces for work, meeting, gathering, rest, nourishment and celebration. These social and ancillary spaces will be furnished by Haworth and Haworth Collection brands including Cassina, Janus et Cie and Cappellini and feature an extensive range of offerings from lounge seating and height-adjustable tables to outdoor furnishings. Sunbrella® Contract high-performance fabrics on lounge seating, pillows, and shade features, show how durable and fade- resistant fabrics meet demanding commercial needs to create the extraordinary. The entire footprint of the outdoor environment features carpets made with ECONYL® regenerated and regenerable nylon created from waste including fishing nets and old carpets. All the carpet tile has been designed and supplied by Interface, made with ECONYL® yarn. Attendees will also enjoy a wide range of gourmet food and drink options for breakfast through evening created by Chef Michael Kornick of DMK, the restaurant group behind The Mart’s Marshall’s Landing. IIDA, the commercial interior design association, will be hosting a branded pop-up featuring smoothies and frozen drinks among other goodies.

“Social spaces are flexible, communal and inspiring, so people can pause, gather, connect and refresh. And, for a lot of these areas, outside is the new in,” adds John Scott, Senior Workplace Design Strategist at Haworth. “In order to creatively develop solutions and reduce the stress in our work lives — go outside. The NeoCon Plaza will give attendees an immersive look into how these spaces can be successfully implemented,” he continues.

The NeoCon Plaza will be open Sunday, June 9, 10:00am-2:00pm; Monday, June 10, 7:00am-9:00pm; Tuesday, June 11, 7:00am to 9:00pm and Wednesday, June 12, 7:00am to 5:00pm. A special Art on theMART projection will be featured on the façade of The Mart after sundown on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights (from approximately 8:30pm to 11:00pm). Additional details for the NeoCon Plaza can be found online at

The idea of utilizing the outdoors to work, collaborate and improve one’s health and wellbeing will also be addressed in NeoCon’s comprehensive conference program. On the morning of Monday, June 10th, Leah Bauer, IIDA, ASID, IFMA, interior design director and practice leader, of HDR will lead a presentation with Assal Yavari, CID, associate director, facilities and operations of Gilead Sciences on “Outdoor Workplace Evolution (M112)” and the results of their partnered efforts to shift culture through data. That afternoon, Heiser and Paul Makovsky, editor in chief of Contract magazine, will explore the topic of “The Outdoor Office: The Next Big Thing (M128).” The conversation will focus on the recent surveys indicating how biophilic design creates a more productive, creative, and happier workforce and the opportunities and challenges involved in creating outdoor workspaces—from new codes to specifying the appropriate products for these spaces and what to expect when doing so.

The show also provides an ideal opportunity to interact one-on-one with top manufacturers and brand representatives that offer outdoor-minded solutions. From permanent showrooms including Haworth (312), Extremis/Steelcase (300/301), Arper (346), Janus et Cie (1420/310A), Tucci (1507), ECONYL (11-107), MAMAGREEN (1586) and Kannoa (1598) to 7th-Floor exhibitors including Sunbrella Contract (7-7054), Chilewich (7-7030), emuamericas (7-4086), Pedrali (7-5050), and Lonseal Flooring (7-9106), the spotlight on the outdoor workspace continues throughout the building.

NeoCon is open to trade, media, C-Suite executives and other industry-related professionals. Registration is available online at Expo: online registration by June 7th – free; On-site registration – $65. Keynote Presentations: free. CEU Seminars: online registration by June 7th – $65 each; onsite registration – $75 each.

For showroom, exhibitor and general NeoCon news, images and real-time information, follow NeoCon    Shows on the following: Facebook (@NeoConShows), Twitter (@NeoCon_Shows), and Instagram (@NeoCon_Shows).

About NeoCon: NeoCon is the world’s leading platform and most important event for the commercial interiors industry, held each year at The Mart in Chicago. Since launching in 1969, NeoCon has served as the annual gathering place for the commercial design world’s manufacturers, dealers, architects, designers, end-users, design organizations and media. The three-day event showcases game-changing products and services from both leading companies and emerging talent—providing unparalleled access to the latest and most innovative solutions. A robust educational program of keynote presentations and CEU sessions offers world-class expertise and insight about today’s most relevant topics as well as the future of commercial design. NeoCon is open to trade, media, C-Suite executives and other industry-related professionals.

NeoCon® is a registered trademark of theMART, a Vornado Property.

About theMART: theMART (formerly The Merchandise Mart), located in the center of the sought-after River North submarket, is interwoven into the fabric of Chicago as an innovator in business, technology, culture, art, media and more. As the largest privately

held commercial building in the United States, it is one of the world’s leading commercial buildings, wholesale design centers and the preeminent international business location in Chicago. Encompassing 4.2 million gross square feet, theMART spans two city blocks, rises 25 stories, and is visited by an average of 30,000 people each business day and nearly 10 million people annually. Offering continuous innovation and creativity from leading manufacturers and design forward showrooms, theMART serves as the home to Chicago’s most creative and technologically innovative companies.