NeoCon and IIDA Launch “Inside Design” Tour Program

Providing Insider Access to High Design Chicago Hotspots

June 10–12, 2019

NeoCon, the world’s leading platform for commercial design, June 10-12, is introducing a series of “Inside Design” tours in partnership with IIDA, the commercial interior design association, for its 51st edition. These exclusive, designer- led tours will venture off-site, allowing attendees the opportunity to experience some of Chicago’s most innovative and celebrated new spaces with the creative minds that brought them into fruition. Six tours will be offered this year with plans to expand the program for future shows.

“The idea behind the Inside Design tours is to showcase great new Chicago design to the A&D community coming to town for NeoCon. What makes these tours really unique is that they are led by the design firms and teams who worked on the projects. So tour guests get a first hand look and perspective on the design and design process,” comments, Lisa Simonian, vice president of marketing, NeoCon.

Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, executive vice president and CEO, notes IIDA is pleased to   present   the   inaugural   “Inside    Design”    tour    program    with    NeoCon.    This series allows us to showcase some never-before-seen projects in an up-close-and- personal manner, offering participants the opportunity to directly engage with the designers, project leaders, and potential new collaborators.”

The full schedule of tours by day includes the below:


LinkedIn Chicago

Liz Potokar, Senior Project Designer, Gensler

Monday, June 10 from 10:00AM–12:00PM

Location: LinkedIn Offices, 525 West Monroe Street

Fee: $65, Registration is required

LinkedIn’s Chicago office continues to grow and expand. Since completing a significant 40,000-square-foot expansion last year, Gensler has designed an additional 40,000 square feet of expansion that will be freshly completed in early June 2019. With an interconnecting stairway, unique amenities, and an open creative office, LinkedIn is focused on having a dynamic workplace that is infused with its brand story and closely connected to the energy of Chicago. This project relates to LinkedIn’s core values of highlighting opportunity, growth and connection.


C.H. Robinson Chicago

Julie Engstrom, Senior Technical Project Designer, Vocon

Monday, June 10 from 2:00–3:30PM

Location: C.H. Robinson Chicago, 515 W. Webster Ave.

Fee: $65, Registration is required

 Vocon’s tenant fit-out for C.H. Robinson evokes a warehouse loft with exposed structure & utilities, metal mesh railings, and exposed concrete floors. The four-story center atrium with open metal stairs serves as a ‘town square’ for the company—making the space visually and physically accessible throughout. The open office with 1800+ seats was fitted out entirely with sit-to-stand desks for flexibility; all seats have daylight and views. Amenities include a conference suite, training, café, serving kitchen, and roof terrace with city views. C. H. Robinson’s personality is on display in the model truck case that features client branding and throughout the experiential branding and graphics that span all four floors.


Willis Tower Catalog and Environmental System’s Design, Inc. (ESD)

Todd Heiser, Principal, Gensler, and Jim Predergrast, Principal, Gensler

Tuesday, June 11 from 10:00AM–12:00PM

Location: Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive

Fee: $65, Registration is required

Willis Tower captures the vibrancy of the city under one roof. From street to sky, it provides inviting hospitality and memorable experiences. An urban destination in the heart of downtown, the tower aims to deliver the best experience in both life and work to residents and visitors of Chicago. The tour, led by Gensler, will offer a glimpse into “Catalog”, the new, five-levels of dining, shopping, and immersive experience at the base of the tower. The tour will then move on to the new amenity spaces at the tower’s transfer floors, before heading upstairs to Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD). A new headquarters for this engineering company, the space seamlessly integrates a professional service company with a living lab for engineers. Embracing a “no more, no less” tenet of engineering, every element is designed to make an impact.


Hotel Essex

Chris McDonough, Principal, Gettys Group and Lindsey Pickle, Project Designer, Gettys Group

Tuesday, June 11 from 1:00–3:00PM

Location: Hotel Essex, 800 S. Michigan Ave. Fee: $65, Registration is required

One of Chicago’s historic landmark buildings, the original 14-story Essex Inn was designed by A. Epstein and Sons. The building’s exterior architecture, including the steel-and-glass façade and the iconic rooftop “Essex Inn” sign will be restored and retained.

The interior renovation and redesign of the historic Hotel Essex is led by Chicago-based design firm The Gettys Group and is influenced by the original hotel’s mid-century modern roots. Guests are welcomed into the hotel’s ground floor lobby with furnishings and décor with 1960s-inspired style, utilizing patterns, color palettes, and materials that modernize the hotel’s atmosphere.

“The mid-century modern design movement is classic, yet innovative,” says Chris McDonough, principal, The Gettys Group. “With Hotel Essex’s transformation, we wanted to convey the timelessness of the era in which the hotel was constructed, while bringing that vibe to the 21st century.”

TAO Chicago

Linda Daniels, Associate, Rockwell Group and Kevin Lee Yi, Interior Designer, Rockwell Group

Tuesday, June 11 from 5:00–6:00PM

Location: TAO Chicago, 632 N. Dearborn Street

Fee: $65, Registration is required

Rockwell Group will lead a tour of TAO Chicago, the architecture and design firm’s 15th collaboration with TAO Group. Working within a historic 1892 landmark in downtown Chicago, Rockwell Group maintained the structure’s soaring brick-walled spaces, arched windows, and special geometry and sight lines, adding TAO’s Asian-influenced DNA for the four level restaurant and nightclub. Tour attendees will be able to discover surprising details, such as a restroom bar and lounge, and original artwork by Hush and others, that transports guests night after night.


McDonald’s Headquarters

Global McDonald’s Design Group

Wednesday, June 12 from 9:00–11:00AM

Location: McDonald’s Global Headquarters, 1035 Randolph St.

Fee: $65, Registration is required

The McDonald’s Global Design Group, responsible for creating new restaurant experiences around the world, will head a tour of the McDonald’s Global Headquarters. In 2018, McDonald’s opened its centralized, global headquarters in the emergent Fulton Market district. The new headquarters is reflective of McDonald’s innovative culture and brings together all employees, from the president to Hamburger University trainees, under one roof. The building was developed by Sterling Bay and designed by Gensler, with IA Interior Architects and Studio O+A leading the interior design and buildout.

“Inside Design” registration opens April 29. Cost per tour is $65. Shuttle service from the Mart to the tour location will be provided.

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.

About IIDA: For 25 years, IIDA, the commercial interior design association with global reach, has been a leader in defining, supporting, and enriching the interior design profession. We support design professionals, industry affiliates, educators, students, firms and their clients through our network of 15,000+ members across 58 countries. We advocate for advancements in education, design excellence, legislation, leadership, accreditation, and community outreach to increase the value and understanding of interior design as a profession that enhances business value and positively impacts the health and wellbeing of people’s lives every day.