Shipping containers become key motif in Austin FC soccer complex

A new hospitality and entertainment complex, The Pitch, in Austin, Texas, puts to use 23 repurposed shipping containers with a variety of configurations and functions.

Mark Odom Studio, an Austin-based architecture firm, designed this first-of-its-kind hub as part of a large sports venue and entertainment complex, for Austin FC soccer fans and the community. The 0.2-ha (0.5-acre) site is a destination for hospitality, retail, food, office, and outdoor gatherings, hosted in flexible two-story shipping containers.

The complex comprises containers of two standard modular sizes: 2.44 by 6.1 m (8 by 20 ft) and 2.44 by 12.2 m (8 by 40 ft). They are stacked to create two stories and then clustered into five separate building pods with varying surface areas, to function differently for the users while creating a dense visual and physical experience and view onto the landscape.

The ground-level containers serve as food and beverage outlets for local vendors. The second-level containers are multifunctional as viewing decks, interior-conditioned gathering spaces, private office spaces, and rooms for private parties or Austin FC watching parties. Custom stairs, vertical tube steel railings, and overhead trellises were carefully designed and executed to tie together each level. Three 12.2-m-tall containers were placed on end to serve as wayfinding nodes from afar, while functioning as restroom facilities and electrical rooms at ground level. Each has interior vertical perspective views to a skylight above.

A mass timber pavilion with custom steel apertures further anchors the program between the Austin FC practice stadium and The Pitch. The once-flat site was heavily landscaped to help the containers nestle and absorb the grade changes. As each pod was curated differently, the experience and views also entice users to walk around and explore.

To achieve the level of execution needed on this project, Mark Odom Studio worked closely with structural engineer Leap Structures, builder Citadel Development Services, and fabricator Makehaus Design and Fabrication Studio. Bay & Associates, Inc. served as the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineer, Falcon Structures was the container consultant, LandDey Consulting was the civil engineer, and TBG Partners was the landscape architect. Additionally, Mark Odom Studio handled the exterior and interior finish selections, as well as furniture selections and installation.

“We approached this project as a collaborative team effort, and the complexity required all disciplines to problem-solve together, from feasibility schematics through construction,” says Mark Odom, founding principal of Mark Odom Studio. “Each building pod is organized and stacked differently, while they all use the same custom detailing, material, and color. This allows the focus on the true form of each container to be consistent.”

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