In approaching the challenge of designing a Hall of Fame for NASCAR, we sought to capture the essential spirit of NASCAR and its sport in architectural form. In exploring the possibilities for expressing speed and spectacle, we were drawn to the arena of action, the racecourse, where fans and race teams come together each race week for the spectacle of race day. Curving, sloped forms are evocative not only of the dynamic and changing sinuous shape of the racetrack but also of the perception of speed, which is at the heart of the NASCAR spectacle.
The Hall of Fame consists of four basic elements: (1) A large glazed oval shape forming a Great Hall is the symbolic core of the Hall of Fame. (2) A rectangular volume houses entry, visitor services, and exhibit space on upper floors. (3) An expressed Hall of Honor is situated as an iconic element within the Great Hall. (4) A broadcast studio enlivens the Hall of Fame Plaza, the sweeping forecourt sited toward the pedestrian traffic and energy of uptown Charlotte.
The results of our explorations of speed and spectacle evolved into an architectural element, the Ribbon, that envelops the full-block building in a form that speaks to the imagery and spirit of NASCAR. The Ribbon takes the form of a mobius, a continuous closed surface with only one side, formed from a rectangular strip by rotating one end 180 degrees and joining it with the other end. Beginning as a curved, sloping exterior wall, the Ribbon twists in a free span over the main entry to form a welcoming canopy. This 158-foot free span weighs 114,000 lbs., with a four-foot-diameter support pipe, 165 prefabricated sub-panels and more than 5,000 stainless steel skin panels.
Within the Great Hall, a signature element of a curved banked ramp leads the visitor from the main floor to exhibit levels above. The ramp contains a display of race cars frozen in a moment from a race, capturing in another way the speed and spectacle that is the essence of the sport.