For the Win! WPM Structures Earns AISC IDEAS² Merit Award for Excellence in Steel-Frame Building Design

13 November 2015
Team photo 2 web


The Circuit of the Americas Observation Tower and Austin360 Amphitheater project in Austin, Texas, has earned a national Merit Award for Excellence in Steel-Frame Building Design in the 2015 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS²) awards program.

In honor of this achievement, members of the project team (pictured above) were presented with awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) during a ceremony atop the Tower’s observation deck during the first day of the 2015 US Grand Prix on October 23rd. Conducted annually by the AISC, 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 Circuit of the Americas (COTA) Observation Tower 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 IDEAS² awards honor National and Merit award winners in categories based on the constructed value of each project, which “is judged on its use of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective.” This year’s award winners were chosen from more than 100 submissions nationwide.

Walter P Moore served as the structural engineer for the Observation Tower, which captures the energy of Formula 1 racing in its iconic form. The 250-ft-tall tower provides a dramatic focal point for the Circuit of the Americas (the first purpose-built Formula 1 racing facility in the U.S.) and creates a new landmark for central Texas. The Tower was conceived as a visual finale to the central Grand Plaza as well as a dramatic and memorable backdrop to the Austin360 Amphitheater.

“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.” 
— IDEAS² awards judge Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, as well as editorial director of GreenSource and SNAP.

At the top of the Observation Tower, the diagrid skeleton extends outward to form a deep cantilever truss that supports a 900-sf viewing deck. The entire balustrade and a portion of the floor are structural laminated glass, allowing more daring visitors to look 230 feet straight down beneath them. From above this level, the veil of closely spaced steel pipes cascades down the back of the tower. Not only a striking visual feature, the veil is also an outrigger column for lateral load resistance via a series of struts and rods that connect it to the main tower.

“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.” — Roger E. Ferch, P.E., President of AISC

Circuit of the Americas  //  Owner
Miró Rivera Architects  //  Architect
Walter P Moore  //  Structural Engineer
Austin Commercial, L.P.  //  General Contractor
Patriot Erectors, Inc.  //  Fabricator & Erector
Wheaton Detailing Service, Inc.  //  Detailer
Chicago Metal Rolled Products  //  Bender/Roller

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