Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Grand Plaza & Amphitheater in Austin, Texas by Miró Rivera Architects
July 21st, 2013 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Miró Rivera Architects
Bordered by the track on three sides, the 27-acre Grand Plaza lies at the heart of the Circuit of the Americas and defines the public experience for most visitors to the new motorsports and entertainment venue. The 3.4-mile racetrack coils around the Grand Plaza and springs out to the east and west, making it the perfect location not only to watch the action of the race unfold, but also to enjoy the amenities contained within. Ideally situated to capture the energy and atmosphere of the Circuit of the Americas, the Grand Plaza will serve as Central Texas’ new home for outdoor entertainment.
Visitors enter through a large hardscaped plaza containing the box office and entry gates. Overhead, flags welcome spectators from all nations as the entry plaza opens into the expansive Grand Plaza, with a dramatic view of the Observation Tower in the distance. This strong axial relationship across the Grand Plaza creates a significant moment of arrival to the Circuit of the Americas, establishing a sense of grandeur and place.
Continuing into the Grand Plaza, a monumental, elliptical reflecting pool sunken into a plush lawn offers a serene gathering point and draws visitors into the site. Varying landscape zones surround and enclose the reflecting pool to define unique areas of activity, including a large outdoor eating area shaded by a grove of Mexican sycamore trees.
From the reflecting pool, a promenade unfolds along the plaza’s northeast edge. Large banners and bold graphics punctuate this trellis-covered boulevard, framing the Grand Plaza while integrating the necessary advertising and signage into the design language of the facility. To the left are amenities including concession stands, retail areas, restrooms and the Turn 15 grandstands. To the right is the Great Lawn, which has the flexibility to accommodate a variety of events including festivals, athletics and pre-concert activities.
At this point, visitors are surrounded by the sights and sounds of the race, heightening the sensory experience of the track and cementing the circuit’s identity. At the end of the promenade, a pedestrian bridge over Turn 16 grants access to the track infield as well as another bridge over Turn 3, thereby allowing visitors to completely cross the track.
Carved into the topography of the site in order to enhance acoustics and views of performers, the Austin360 Amphitheater is the largest outdoor stage in Central Texas, with 6,671 fixed seats and a total capacity of over 14,000 people. The dramatic backdrop of the 251 foot tall Observation Tower serves as a memorable setting, galvanizing the city of Austin’s reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World.
Spectators enter the amphitheater at the back of the lawn and descend toward the stage, passing two tiers of fixed seating. The front center section of the fixed seating is occupied by nine rows of box seats with premium views of the stage. Directly in front of the stage, a flexible floor area provides the option for additional temporary seats, banquet tables or standing room
Above the stage, a canopy of red steel tubes converges to form a “veil” that sweeps up and over the iconic Observation Tower. Exposed structural elements and red steel tubes are reoccurring themes meant to evoke the precision, dynamism and performance-driven design of racecars. Used consistently throughout the Circuit of the Americas, these elements create a cohesive visual experience that serves to establish the emerging identity of the complex as a world-class recreation and entertainment destination.
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