McDonald's Design Heritage

The fast-food giant has built its success on ideas that bubble up from anywhere.

Masters of Design

1948

First McDonald's
The McDonald brothers reinvent their San Bernadino, California, carhop with a limited menu and an all-glass storefront that adds theater as customers watch the cooks.

 

1955

First McDonald's Franchise
Ray Kroc opens a McD's in Des Plaines, Illinois, adding two attention-grabbing golden arches. "One of the original customers told me that he had to check it out to see what it was all about," says company archivist Mike Bullington.

 

1962

Indoor Dining Introduced
A franchisee in Denver adds the first indoor dining room, a step beyond the "warm front" glass enclosures that Midwest and Northeast stores used around the ordering windows.

 

1967

First International Store
As the company opens its first store in Richmond, British Columbia, it trades in its original burger-faced Speedee logo for one based on its already famous structure: two stylized arches.

 

1968

First Mansard-Roof Style
A franchise in Matteson, Illinois, introduces the French, four-sided roof -- a signal that sit-down dining has gone mainstream. The design is replicated for two generations and imitated by McDonald's competitors.

 

1971

First PlayPlace
A franchisee in Chula Vista, California, puts his own twist on the "You Deserve a Break Today" campaign, offering tired parents the first playground. It becomes a symbol for dining "democratization," Bullington says. "Just bring the whole family."

 

1975

First Drive-Through
The first drive-through prototype? A franchisee in Sierra Vista, Arizona, skirts an Army regulation requiring fatigue-clad soldiers to stay in their cars by knocking out a wall in his kitchen to serve them.

 

1999

The Resurgence Begins
Designer Philippe Avanzi consults on restaurant designs in Paris and later all of Europe, creating the first node of Denis Weil's newly localized design network.

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