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Exclusive: Why IIDA Is Moving From The Mart To 111 East Wacker

Chicago Office

In March 2017, the International Interior Design Association will relocate its HQ to 111 East Wacker. IIDA signed an 18k SF lease, which marks the association’s move from the Merchandise Mart, one of Chicago’s most coveted office buildings for tenants.


IIDA EVP and CEO Cheryl Durst says the group weighed several options, including renewing its lease at The Mart, but ultimately a couple of factors made the decision to move to the Mies van der Rohe-designed building simple.

111 East Wacker Drive

As a nonprofit, membership-based organization dedicated to design excellence, Cheryl says IIDA needed to take fiduciary responsibility into account with a new lease. Moving to 111 East Wacker will save IIDA money in the long run, while the new footprint will give the organization room to grow, something it wouldn't be able to do at The Mart, where Cheryl says the org's outgrown its existing space. The new offices will include a community space component, something IIDA would not be able to have in The Mart.


Savills Studley assistant director Patrick Brady, who helped IIDA negotiate the new lease, says IIDA wanted to challenge its status quo and review all its options because the new office is a resource for its members. Patrick says 111 East Wacker’s location in a fast-changing Michigan Avenue corridor, especially along the Chicago River where the Riverwalk is a major attraction for office workers and tourists, will be beneficial for IIDA.

With the red-hot Londonhouse hotel on the southwest corner and Apple building a new flagship store at 401 North Michigan, 111 East Wacker is in the center of robust hotel and retail markets, two sectors that are on top of the latest design trends.


Cheryl agrees that the changing face of the Michigan Avenue/River submarket will be a draw for IIDA's future growth. She says downtown Chicago’s growth was, is and will be predicated on great design, and highly desirable assets like The Mart and 111 East Wacker will continue to fill every rentable square foot.

IIDA is working with Gensler to design the office space and is very excited to have community space to showcase the organization and its members. Cheryl says some of the usable space not dedicated to the organization's needs will be repurposed as flexible space for events, programming and member usage, where people can tour and see how much tech interacts with everyday design work.