12 Sensational Structural Steel Sites to Add to Your Summer Bucket List

National Museum of African American History and Culture | Photo: Michael Barnes

Spending the summer exploring structural steel buildings and structures is at the top of our bucket list. From architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) to building information modeling (BIM) to hollow structural sections (HSS) there are plenty of locations we can’t wait to see in person.

Here’s our top 12:

UC Davis Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Davis, Calif.: The 50,000-sq.-ft rolling HSS canopy set against a rural backdrop not only displays the works and research of UC Davis graduate students but also intersperses other artists from around the globe.   

World Trade Center Transportation Hub (The Oculus), New York City: Riding the subway this summer is now more aesthetically pleasing thanks to Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus. Designed to look like a pair of hands releasing a white dove, the skylight over a transit station in Lower Manhattan offers a lot of sunny brightness to travelers.

Daily’s Place, Jacksonville, Fla.: Over the summer, Daily’s Place will host concerts featuring Rascal Flatts, Ms. Lauryn Hill, O.A.R. and many more. The exposed steel trusses and fabric roof gracefully suspend to create a delightful indoor/outdoor experience.  

U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis: Although shaped to resemble a viking ship in honor of its home team, the Minnesota Vikings, the stadium lends itself to a multitude of family-friendly events throughout the summer. From a kids fundraising walk, to the X Games, to professional soccer games, to the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert and of course, preseason Vikings’ games, the summer will be lively at U.S. Bank Stadium.  

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C.: Located on the National Mall, the Smithsonian Institute Museum doesn’t just hold masterpieces. It’s also a monument in its own right due to the intricate framing system and steel-supported exterior “corona.” Once inside, visitors are treated to a vast array of exhibits ranging from historical to contemporary.  

The Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, Little Rock, Ark.: The experiential learning center not only offers books but also a performance space, a teaching kitchen, a greenhouse, a vegetable garden and an arboretum. The whimsical space attracts both children and older community members alike.

The Gourd, San Antonio: Built for the San Antonio Botanical Gardens’ human-sized birdhouse competition, the Gourd is illuminating to witness at night. More than 1,000 holes mottle the sculpture, each of them fitted with a Ball Mason jar that brings light to the interior.

Principal Riverwalk Pavilion, Des Moines, Iowa.: Stroll down Des Moines’ picturesque riverfront and recharge under the Pavilion, which allows views upriver while blocking the harsh, western sun.

The Vegas High Roller Observation Wheel, Las Vegas: The 550-ft-tall observation wheel offers passengers an unsurpassed aerial view of the city and a floating sensation achieved with only a single rim element and single cabin support bearing.

Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO), Oracle, Ariz.: Learn about secrets of the rainforest and much more at LEO, which is dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues. Don’t forget your SPF and comfortable shoes!

Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Mich.: The contemporary modern art museum at Michigan State University boasts paintings, sculptures and even an ancient Mayan exhibit ensconced by an ultramodern geometric exterior.

Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower & Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin:  The 250-ft-tall tower looks down on the Circuit of the Americas, allowing the viewer to see the entire 3.4-mile Formula 1 racetrack. The attached Austin360 Amphitheater will host a series of summer concerts at its outdoor venue.