Just in time for their 100th anniversary, The Chicago Bears unveiled the expansion and renovation at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois. This includes a 162,500-square-foot football operations addition to the already existing 143,000-square-foot facility and a 30,600-square-foot remodeling project on the northeast side of the building. HOK was the design firm, Mortenson Construction was the general contractor and Corporate Concepts provided the furniture for the project.
“We’re extremely proud to unveil the Halas Hall expansion and renovations and would like to thank HOK, Mortenson, the City of Lake Forest and all of our staff for their roles in the project,” said Bears president and CEO, Ted Phillips. “Throughout the process, our goal was to not only develop a more collaborative work flow across the building, but to create an experience for everyone entering Halas Hall so that it becomes more than just a work space. From guests to staff to players and coaches, we want everyone to feel at home.”
As part of the project, which broke ground in March 2018, a new player entry was designed with a hallway featuring all 14 of the Bears’ retired numbers, wall/ceiling lights that illuminate as players enter and music capabilities leading up to a 46-inch video wall comprised of nine screens. Position meeting rooms and the draft room doubled in capacity, while coaches’ offices increased by 50 percent and allowed for improved collaboration. A 3,250-square-foot players’ lounge was created, along with an approximately 1,700-square-foot player locker room expansion that now includes a barbershop. The coaches/scouts locker room was also expanded and now includes a sauna and steam room.
The weight room increased in size by 2,000 square feet, while the equipment room, recovery space and nutrition/fuel station doubled in size; the equipment room now includes a helmet-fitting room, footwear and shoulder pad fitting area, sewing room and high-density storage cabinets. Additionally, the sports medicine space is four times larger than the original area and features two hydrotherapy pools, two plunge pools, a float pod, sauna and steam room. A 13,000-square-foot indoor turf space was also added.
The team and staff café moe than doubled in size to 7,608 square feet, including the dining area and kitchen space. The café features the Bearista coffee bar, a smoothie/juice bar, stand-alone soup and salad bar, daily live action station and hot food, sandwich and dessert bars. Adjacent to the café is the Sideline, which provides additional seating and lounge space for the team and staff. Atop the expansion is a 4,200-square-foot rooftop dining area and garden from which the café will source herbs.
Halas Hall now features 20 conference rooms named after Bears legends and football terminology, such as the Brian Piccolo Room and Decatur Room. There are also seven private phone rooms and a newly added learning center for staff training and professional development. Staff can work or relax in two enclosed patios, which feature exterior walls that open completely to allow in fresh air; the renovation also includes a wellness room and expanded staff locker rooms. Coaches and staff each have Huddles featuring coffee and snack bars, refrigerators, microwaves and lounge/dining spaces. In an effort to create more sunlight throughout the building, glass walls were installed and many exterior offices were moved to interior spaces.
“The renovation and expansion of Halas Hall have created a first-class facility that provides a daily reminder and motivation to help us work towards the goal of being a championship team,” said Bears general manager, Ryan Pace. “This upgrade furthers the continued support from the McCaskey family and their commitment to attract, develop and retain the most talented roster possible both on and off the field.”
New design elements include a brick wall featuring the Chicago Bears traditions script, four individual walls each highlighting a core value (respect, integrity, team, excellence), messaging on various walls displaying the Bears mission statement and inspirational quotes, a customized neon ceiling light of George S. Halas’ signature, a ceiling sculpture representing 100 years of Bears’ records and a 14-by-45- foot mural designed by Czr Prz in the indoor turf space. The main lobby also features video board that is 28 feet by 5 feet 7 inches. There are approximately 175 video displays in the renovated space.
Through a separate construction project, two additional football fields were built to the east of the Walter Payton Center, which allow the team to spread out the field use over four fields throughout the offseason and during in-season practices. That project also included the addition of a training slope, a storage facility and a practice viewing suite for corporate partners and other VIP guests.
Recent upgrades to Soldier Field in Gates 8, 10 and 14 also feature renovated and expanded office space for Bears staff. Last winter, the Bears opened an 11,000-square-foot Loop office for their corporate partnerships and suite sales/service departments at 123 N. Wacker Drive.