What’s New at McCormick Place in 2022?

Aug. 18, 2022
One of the largest exhibit halls in the U.S. faced safety and aesthetic upgrades during the pandemic.

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It’s been four years since the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) has been staged in Chicago, and those four years have seen seismic change in manufacturing and the world. As the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) prepares to stage North America’s largest manufacturing show on the shores of Lake Michigan, Machine Design Senior Content Director Bob Vavra spoke with Peter Eelman, chief experience officer at AMT, about the changes in technology and presentation for this year’s event and how the 2022 show will be familiar, yet very different. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Bob Vavra: You mentioned McCormick Place. Let’s talk about the venue itself: Any big changes that you see on the horizon for McCormick Place?

Peter Eelman: With McCormick Place itself, there’s both subtle and obvious changes. For one, if you’re downtown and you take the take the little train to McCormick Place, the train station has finally been completed. It’s totally new, fresh, upgraded. So that’s probably the most visible if you use that kind of transportation.

The building itself, they did a wonderful job. With a shutdown, they suffered as everyone suffered, [but] they did not sit still. All of the heating and ventilating has been upgraded and renovated, and probably where a lot of folks who drive in will notice in the parking lots, all of the lighting has been replaced with the energy-efficient lighting. It’s brighter, but it also doesn’t come on if you’re not there. The energy efficiency of McCormick Place is improved tremendously.

For a lot of it that visitors don’t see, there were lots of upgrades in the technical side of things. The docks are rearranged. They’re doing things to make the entire experience of being an exhibitor a bit more efficient. They did a lot of work on the buildings, including sealing the floors.

You might recall that the building was going to be used as a potential hospital in the early, early days of the pandemic. It really hardly ever was. I think there were a total of three patients there, and they were not COVID patients, but it was at the time nobody knew, right?

So one of the things that they did was completely seal all of the concrete floors which had not been done. It used to be a pretty dusty place, even once the show opened, you got a lot of carpet down, but there’s still dust in the air anytime you have a concrete floor. That’s now completely sealed and with the upgraded ventilation system, I think people will notice kind of like how it seems brighter and fresher in there.

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