Bjarke Ingels Group unveil design for new type of sports and leisure district under one enormous roof

Like a collective campus rather than a monolithic stadium, the East Austin District unifies all the elements of rodeo and soccer into a village of courtyards and canopies
– Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) have revealed their latest major US project – a sports and entertainment neighbourhood in Texas under a dramatic chequered roofscape.

Ambitious plans for the 1.3 million sq ft (121,000sq m) East Austin District were announced today (5 December) by Austin Sports & Entertainment, founded by sports media executives Andrew Nestor and Sean Foley.

Located at the home of rodeo in Austin, the new complex is described as “a world of worlds for sports fans, music festival-goers and adventurists to take the pilgrimage for the quintessential Austin experience”.

Underneath the distinctive latticed roof – inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s grid system for dividing America’s fields, forests and towns into square-mile sections – there will be a 40,000-seat stadium for soccer and rugby matches, music festivals and other major events.

There will also be a 15,000-seat multi-purpose arena for Rodeo Austin, musical acts, basketball, hockey and other programmes.

And the venue will include a 190,000sq ft (17,600sq m) area for hospitality and support functions, conjoining the two arenas and providing space for medical facilities, workshops and youth programmes.

The individual elements will be unified by all-wooden interiors based on the local barn and porch vernacular, while the rooftop will be covered in red photovoltaic panels.

Sandwiched between the buildings and connecting the district will be eight courtyards, conceived as outdoor ‘living rooms’ for public life where local people can gather for communal gatherings, food truck scenes and concerts.

“Like a collective campus rather than a monolithic stadium, the East Austin District unifies all the elements of rodeo and soccer into a village of courtyards and canopies,” explained BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.

“Embracing Austin’s local character and culture, the East Austin District is a single destination composed of many smaller structures under one roof. Part architecture, part urbanism, part landscape – the East Austin District is the architectural manifestation of collective intimacy – a complex capable of making tens of thousands of fans come together and enjoy the best Austin has to offer inside and between its buildings.”

In a statement, Foley and Nestor said: “The East Austin District represents an opportunity for Austin to combine what it needs with what it wants – community infrastructure for District 1 with world-class facilities for sports and entertainment.

“We're in active discussions with leading global sports and entertainment organisations, including our partner Rodeo Austin as well as various corporations, to serve as anchors.”

BIG – who are best-known in the US for designing the VIA 57 West ‘courtscraper in New York and the forthcoming 2 World Trade Center in Manhattan and Google Headquarters in Mountain View – are collaborating on the project with Austin-based architects STG Design.

Their previous sports designs include a striking golden stadium for National Football League franchise the Washington Redskins; a proposal for Barcelona FC’s Nou Camp re-development; a domed indoor football stadium in Greenland; and a multi-functional sports hall for Gammel Hellerup High School in Denmark.

The practice are featured in the latest issue of CLADmag, including interviews with all 12 partners.

In an interview with Ingels, the Danish architect told CLAD that “increasingly, we don’t just want to make a good-looking version of something that’s already been done before; instead we want to take responsibility and initiative in giving form to our future.”

Bjarke Ingels Group  BIG  Austin  Texas  US  architecture  design  East Austin District  Austin Sports & Entertainment  Andrew Nestor  Sean Foley 
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