NASCAR Hall of Fame / Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

© Paul Warchol

In approaching the challenge of designing a Hall of Fame for NASCAR, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners sought to capture the essential spirit of NASCAR and its sport in architectural form. In exploring the possibilities for expressing speed and spectacle, they 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.

Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Location: , North Carolina, USA
Project Area: 700,000 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Peter Brentlinger, Paul Warchol

© Paul Warchol

An important part of ’s design strategy was to locate NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza, a sweeping forecourt that welcomes visitors to the Hall of Fame, on the northern edge of the site, poised toward the pedestrian traffic and energy of uptown Charlotte.

© Peter Brentlinger 2010

The Hall of Fame consists of four basic elements. First, a large glazed oval shape forming a Great Hall serves as the symbolic core of the Hall of Fame and a primary orientation point for the visitor. Second, a rectangular volume houses visitor services, including entry and exhibit space on the upper floors. Third, an expressed Hall of Honor is situated as an iconic element within the Great Hall. Finally, a broadcast studio, serving as an origination point for a variety of radio and television broadcasts by NASCAR’s media partners, enlivens the Plaza.

© Peter Brentlinger 2010
© Paul Warchol

The results of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners’s explorations of speed and spectacle evolved into an architectural element they call the Ribbon, which envelops the varied program elements in a form that speaks to the imagery and spirit of NASCAR. Beginning as a curved, sloping exterior wall enclosing the building, the Ribbon twists in a free span over the main entry to form a welcoming canopy. Inspired by the dynamic quality of speed, captured in a second as a blur on film, the long, thin incisions in this metal skin are analogous to the blur of a car racing past the spectator at tremendous speed.

© Paul Warchol
© Paul Warchol

On the interior within the Great Hall, a signature element of a curved banked ramp leads the visitor from the main floor to the 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.

ballroom level plan
plaza level plan

NASCAR Tower is a twenty‐story office tower anchoring the southeast corner of the full city block development that is the Hall of Fame Complex. Located at the intersection of the Caldwell Street freeway interchange, the tower is designed as a gateway to the city and to blend with the iconic design of the Hall of Fame. The tower form follows the lead of the Hall of Fame, consisting of a curvilinear metal and glass curtain wall contrasted with a rectangular precast concrete armature.

© Peter Brentlinger 2010
© Peter Brentlinger 2010
© Peter Brentlinger 2010
© Peter Brentlinger 2010
exhibit level plan
entry level plan

Partner‐in‐Charge, Design: Yvonne Szeto
Associate Architect for Hall of Fame/Ballroom/Parking: Little Diversified Architectural Consulting
Associate Architect for Office Tower: LS3P Associates Ltd.
Structural Engineer: Leslie E. Robertson Associates, R.L.L.P.
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer: Jaros Baum & Bolles
Lighting: Cosentini Associates / One Lux Studio
Exhibit Design: Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "NASCAR Hall of Fame / Pei Cobb Freed & Partners" 28 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Dec 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=138513>
  • R.Aller

    Brilliant Idea!!! I love how they came up with the idea to exhibit the cars on an actual race track, i think it’s genius.

  • Tim

    It’s hilarious how that metal ribbon just hits the box and “plop” done. There’s no interaction at all, not even an attempt.

    It’s awesome in how wrong it is – cracks me up.

    Mr. Pei, please put down the Gehry monograph and slowly back away. I repeat, put it down and slowly back away.

    • Nathan

      I think the only designer who’se put down the Gehry monograph is Frank Gehry himself. I don’t know what he’s doing right now. That said, I love the idea of a moebius strip, and the metal surface is absolutely stunning.