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NASCAR Hall of Fame Wins National Architecture and Engineering Award

October 8, 2013 from American Institute of Steel Construction

(Chicago, IL) – The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., has earned national recognition in the 2013 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards program (IDEAS2). In honor of this achievement, members of the project team will be presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a ceremony at the project site on Wednesday, October 9, at 11 a.m.

Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEAS2 awards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects across the country. The IDEAS2 award is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on building projects by the structural steel industry in the U.S. and recognizes the importance of teamwork, coordination and collaboration in fostering successful construction projects. 

The project team members include:

  • Owner/Developer: City of Charlotte; NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Owner’s Representative: NASCAR, Charlotte
  • Architects: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners LLP, New York; and Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, Charlotte
  • Structural Engineer: Leslie E. Robertson Associates, RLLP, New York
  • General Contractor: BE&K Building Group, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Design-Build Contractor for Ribbon: Zahner, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Steel Fabricator and Bender/Roller: SteelFab, Inc., Charlotte (AISC Member/AISC Certified Fabricator)
  • Steel Detailer: Hutchins & Associates, Clemmons, N.C. (AISC Member)
  • Steel Erector: Williams Erection Company, Smyrna, Ga. (AISC Member/AISC Advanced Certified Erector)

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is a National award winner in the category of projects Greater than $75 Million, making it one of only four projects around the country to receive the National honor. Each year, the IDEAS2 awards honor National and Merit award winners in three categories, based on constructed value: projects less than $15 million; projects $15 million to $75 million; and projects greater than $75 million. Each project is judged on its use of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective, with an emphasis on: creative solutions to project’s program requirements; applications of innovative design approaches in areas such as connections, gravity systems, lateral load resisting systems, fire protection and blast; aesthetic and visual impact of the project; innovative use of architecturally exposed structural steel; technical or architectural advances in the use of the steel; and the use of innovative design and construction methods.

In approaching the challenge of designing a Hall of Fame for NASCAR, the project’s design team sought to capture the essential spirit of NASCAR and its sport in architectural form. In exploring the possibilities for expressing speed and spectacle, the architect and structural engineer were drawn to the arena of action, the racecourse, where fans and race teams come together each race week for the experience of race day.

Curving, sloped forms are evocative not only of the dynamic and changing sinuous shape of the racetrack but also of the perception of speed, which, of course, is at the heart of any race.

“Totally bewitching, it grabs hold of your senses long before you find the words to articulate what it has accomplished,” commented Paul Dannels, FAIA, a founding principal of sdi structures, Ann Arbor, Mich., and a judge in the competition.

The expression of these forms could only have been achieved through the use of steel, both as cladding and structure, encompassing several long-span and architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) elements and employing innovative approaches to connections, detailing and the interface of structural steel with stone, glass, and steel as a finish material.

The Hall of Fame consists of four basic elements:

  • A large glazed oval shape forming a Great Hall serves as the symbolic core of the Hall of Fame.
  • A rectangular volume houses visitor services, including entry and exhibit space on upper floors.
  • An expressed Hall of Honor is situated as an iconic element within the Great Hall.
  • A broadcast studio enlivens the Hall of Fame Plaza, the sweeping forecourt that welcomes visitors.

Design explorations of speed and spectacle evolved into an architectural element, the Ribbon that envelops the full-block building in a form that speaks to the imagery and spirit of NASCAR. Beginning as a curved, sloping exterior wall enclosing the building, the Ribbon twists in a free span over the main entry to form a welcoming canopy. Long, thin incisions in the metal skin, which are animated by running are analogous to the blur of a car racing past the spectator at tremendous speed. Within the Great Hall, a signature element of a curved, banked ramp leads the visitor from the main floor to exhibit levels above. The ramp contains a display of race cars frozen in a moment frame from a race, capturing in another way the speed and spectacle that is the essence of the sport.

The selection of the material for the Ribbon was critical to realizing the design intent. The team drew on another aspect of the world of NASCAR – its technology – and was inspired by the process of shaping raw sheet metal to form the body of the race car. This fundamental element has underlain all NASCAR race cars since the beginning of the sport. From a design point of view, metal imparts a light and airy feeling to the architecture. As the cladding material the stainless steel softly reflects light and accentuates the dynamic aspect of the Ribbon as its sculpted form changes around the building.

The structure’s significant spans were achieved with structural steel trusses:

  • A set of trusses spanning 175 ft achieve a grand column-free ballroom.
  • A 100-ft-long, bi-level footbridge, supported by a pair of one-story-deep trusses, links the ballroom with the existing Charlotte Convention Center.
  • Two- and three-story-high trusses cantilever 30 ft over the broadcast studio.

One of the most significant AESS elements in the project is the Vierendeel frame supporting the glass façade of the Great Hall. The lateral-load-resisting system at this façade also functions as the braced frame that supports the Ribbon.

The structural bid set was issued six months before the 100% CD set. The steel tender was divided into multiple packages to enable detailing and fabrication of portions of the project to proceed before the full design was complete. A 3D Tekla model was used in the steel detailing to identify and resolve potential conflicts in the field. These efforts and effective team communication allowed the long scheduled public opening to occur on time.

The 13 IDEAS2 winners for 2013 were chosen from nearly 100 submissions received from architectural and engineering firms throughout the U.S. Each submission is reviewed and award winners are selected by a nationally recognized panel of design and construction industry professionals.

The IDEAS2 award dates back more than 70 years to the earliest years of AISC’s existence. Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The entire NASCAR Hall of Fame project team has shown how structural steel can be used to create structures that combine beauty and practicality. The result is a structure that serves the history and heritage of NASCAR extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of the NASCAR Hall of Fame project are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at 312.670.5439, [email protected]. To learn more about the IDEAS2 awards and to view all of this year’s winning projects, visit www.aisc.org/ideas2.

NASCAR Hall of Fame
Photo Credit: Paul Warchol Photography, Inc.


For more information contact:

Tasha Weiss
Communications Department
(312) 670-5439
[email protected]




American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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