Arts Desk

What Building Was That in the Transformers: Dark of the Moon Super Bowl Teaser?

There was some talk yesterday that the 30-second teaser for Transformers: Dark of the Moon show in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLV on Sunday night featured the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as a backdrop for one explosive shot. And while the film's week of D.C. shooting last October did venture near Mt. Vernon Square, that wasn't our convention center behind the split-second shot of two giant robots grinding up on each other like the last days of mecha-disco.

After TBD's Ryan Kearney heard from Convention Center management that the building was not in the ad contrary to the early assessment, I watched the spot again and decided to look at Google Maps for some amateur location scouting in hopes of solve this riddle.

The scene at the 11-second mark shows a robot battle in front of a white concrete and glass structure that could very well be a convention center. But upon one glance at the Walter E. Washington—

—it becomes obvious that these buildings are not one and the same. While the color schemes and façades are alike, the windows on the two structures are not. Our convention center's windows are more vertical, but those of the building in the Transformers trailer are horizontal. Where then, can we find the building featured in that split-second orgy of metal and explosions?

Nowhere around here. The complex show in the ad is most likely McCormick Place in Chicago. Michael Bay completed much of his principal photography in the Windy City last summer, and indeed multiple frames in the Super Bowl teaser feature burning Ludwig Mies van der Rohe skyscrapers and destruction on Michigan Avenue. McCormick Place, Chicago's sprawling convention center just south of Soldier Field on Lake Shore Drive, was, like Walter E. Washington designed by the firm tvsdesign, hence the geometric similarities.

Calls to both Chicago's Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and the Chicago Film Office confirmed that Transformers: Dark of the Moon filmed scenes outside McCormick Place, though neither spokesperson I spoke to had seen the teaser on Sunday night. But compare this photo of McCormick Place to the scene from the commercial:

Photo of Walter E. Washington Convention Center by APK using a Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. Photo of McCormick Place by Zol87 using a Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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