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Wintrust Arena

Pelli Clarke Pelli Archiects


Chicago, Illinois, USA
300,000 square feet / 28,000 square meters

Wintrust Arena is a contemporary multi-purpose event space on the Near South Side of Chicago, providing a dynamic landmark destination for the urban neighborhood.


The event center is part of a redevelopment plan to transform the surrounding neighborhood into a vibrant district with dining and entertainment venues, hotels, and streetscapes.

The event center’s main design feature is an innovative, stepped roof that swells upward over the arena seating, recalling the ceilings of Chicago’s great public rooms like Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Building, the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, and Union Station.


At night, the shapes produce a distinctive pattern that is visible from the Loop, Chicago’s central business district. Within the arena, the roof’s structure is exposed, making the steel trusses that support it an expressive part of the design and reminiscent of the emergence of steel-tubed design in 1960s Chicago.


Additionally, medium-scale, metal-clad pavilions are located intermittently around the perimeter of the building, mediating the change in scale and housing many of the event center’s support spaces.

The building’s contemporary design grew from a careful study of the adjacent Prairie Avenue District and the larger-scale convention center campus, creating a transition between the two. It’s height and scale are sensitive to its surrounding context, keeping the neighborhood’s fabric pedestrian friendly.

Wintrust is cloaked in an enormous glass façade, making the activity within the building—even into the arena—visible from the street, creating a sense of inclusion to the passersby. The multi-level lobby continues the bright, vast scale of the exterior as an open and flexible space for events and keynotes, or as a welcoming entryway to a main event in the arena.

The 10,600-seat arena is the home of DePaul University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams and convention-related events for McCormick Place, the country’s largest convention center. This space also hosts large concerts and events, perfectly suited for ideal acoustics and views.

Wintrust Arena is a defining epicenter for McCormick Square—a culturally diverse, historic district built for native Chicagoans and visitors from around the world.

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