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Observation Tower

Observation Tower

 

 
It’s just an amazing thing—it evokes landmarks, it evokes steeples. It somehow manages to capture the essence of speed and horizontality, and translates and transforms it into a remarkable vertical structure.”
— Alex Krieger, FAIA
 

 
 

Capturing the energy of Formula 1 racing in its iconic form, the 251 foot tall Observation Tower provides a dramatic focal point for the Circuit of The Americas. Evoking the notion of split-second speed, the Observation Tower reflects the spirit of the Circuit of The Americas and serves to establish the complex as a world-class recreation and entertainment destination.

The construction of the Observation Tower represents the intersection of material efficiency, thoughtful structural design and elegant aesthetics. The primary structure consists of a continuously-welded double-helix stair wrapped in a filigree-like diagrid. Each stair run serves as a helical diaphragm that transfers loads to a layered perimeter of vertical and diagonal HSS tubes. These small, distributed members contribute the necessary overall strength by number rather than individual brawn, enhancing the feeling of lightness and verticality that the Tower embodies.

Like Formula 1 racecars, the Tower’s form is directly influenced by its performance. A roof of red steel tubes fans out over the amphitheater stage, converging at the base of the Tower to form a “veil” that sweeps up and over the central elevator core. The 8” diameter tubes not only have a strong visual impact, but also act as an outrigger column for lateral load resistance via a series of struts and rods that tie back to the primary structure.

Accessed via two helical stairs and a high-speed elevator, a viewing deck at an elevation of 230 feet offers a sweeping panorama of the entire track, downtown Austin, and the nearby Hill Country. A portion of the floor is structural laminated glass, allowing more daring visitors to look straight down below their feet.

 
 

LOCATION
Austin, Texas

CLIENT
Circuit of The Americas

SCOPE
New Construction

AWARDS
Design Award, Texas Society of Architects
Merit Award, IDEAS² Awards
Overall Winner, ABJ Commercial Real Estate Awards
Merit Award, AIA Austin