Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower and Austin360 Amphitheater Wins National Steel Building Award

October 16, 2015

(Chicago, IL) – The Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower and Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas, has earned national recognition in the 2015 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 structure on Friday, October 23 at 10 a.m.

Conducted annually by AISC, the IDEASawards recognize outstanding achievement in engineering and architecture on structural steel projects across the country. The IDEASaward 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 structure’s project team members include:

  • Owner: Circuit of the Americas, Austin
  • Owner’s Representative: MBC Consultants, Terrell, Texas
  • Architect: Miró Rivera Architects, Austin
  • Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore, Austin (entered project in the competition)
  • General Contractor: Austin Commercial L.P., Austin, Texas
  • Steel Fabricator and Erector: Patriot Erectors, Inc., Dripping Springs, Texas (AISC Member/Certified Fabricator and Advanced Certified Steel Erector)
  • Bender/Roller: Chicago Metal Rolled Products, Chicago (AISC Member)

The Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower and Austin360 Amphitheater is a Merit award winner in the category of projects Less than $15 Million, making it one of only seven projects around the country to receive the Merit honor. Each year, the IDEASawards 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 (AESS); technical or architectural advances in the use of the steel; and the use of innovative design and construction methods.

“Both an observation tower and an instant landmark, this dramatic structure is all about its exposed steel structure, which is light and bright against the Texas sky,” commented IDEASawards judge, Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, as well as editorial director of GreenSource and SNAP.

The 250-ft-tall tower looks down on the Circuit of the Americas (the first purpose-built Formula 1 racing facility in the U.S.) and was conceived as a visual finale to the central Grand Plaza as well as a dramatic and memorable backdrop to the adjacent Austin360 Amphitheater. The amphitheater is the largest outdoor stage in central Texas, with 6,671 fixed seats and a total capacity of over 14,000 people.

Inspired by the image of red streaks of glowing light that tail lights leave behind in the dark, a fan of red steel tubes over the amphitheater stage converges to form a veil that sweeps up and over a central elevator shaft wrapped by a stair. While code requirements required an enclosed shaft, the elevator core is gypsum and provides no structural support. The entire structural system is steel and is exterior to the shaft. Seemingly suspended from this pipe steel canopy is a viewing deck that offers a sweeping panorama of the entire track, downtown Austin and nearby Hill Country.

The IDEASaward dates back more than 50 years with AISC. And about this year’s winning observation tower and amphitheater, Roger E. Ferch, P.E., president of AISC, said, “The entire Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower and Austin360 Amphitheater 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 racing facility and its patrons extremely well, while providing an example of what can be achieved when designing and constructing projects with steel.”

High-resolution images of the Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower and Austin360 Amphitheater project are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at 312.670.5439 or For more information about the IDEASawards and to view all of this year’s winners, please visit


For more information contact:

Dani Friedland
Marketing Communications Strategist

American Institute of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a non-partisan, 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, market development, and advocacy. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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