In charge of this decision was the Elks National Headquarters Committee, a group of eight past Elks leaders. They unanimously voted for Chicago as the location for the memorial, and inspired by the beautification of the lakefront, they decided to build it across the street from Lincoln Park, in the eponymous neighborhood.
While the Elks National Memorial was primarily a war memorial in honor of the over 70,000 Elks who served and over 1,000 who died during World War I, it was also a prime opportunity for them to construct a national headquarters. After deciding on the location, they began a design competition with requirements for a building that could house both a memorial and a headquarters. This included a central memorial hall, a reception room for the president of the Elks, and offices and other facilities for the organization's headquarters.
Seven prestigious architecture firms from Chicago, New York, and Boston were chosen by the Elks Committee to submit a design proposal. In 1922, Egerton Swartwout was unanimously declared the winner. His design was the only one to include a circular plan, which the committee appreciated as a contrast to the more standard rectilinear design used in other fraternal buildings.