Gerdau Ameristeel – Champions Arch

There are few spectacles in America like the Super Bowl. Whether or not they actually follow professional football, millions of Americans cram into the homes of friends and relatives each year to watch the sporting event that crowns the champion of the National Football League. Naturally, companies such as Gerdau Ameristeel jump at the chance to be involved with game. 

For the 2010 Super Bowl, Gerdau Ameristeel built the 23-foot-high steel Champions Arch on Ocean Drive in the South Beach area of Miami. Tamayo Engineering, a local contractor, was in charge of preparing and maintaining traffic plans surrounding the area where Champions Arch was erected. Owner Enrique Tamayo explains that it was a great opportunity to be a part of the Champions Arch project. 

“We are a local, small business [and a] minority-owned company, so for us it was an extreme pleasure to be involved in this type of project in South Florida,” Tamayo says. “It’s quite a unique structure and an overall unique project. We certainly did our best to expedite our portion of the work and get it into the contractor’s hands.” 

Mario Longhi, CEO of Gerdau Ameristeel, spoke with Construction Today about the creation of the Champions Arch and its use of recycled steel. 

Construction Today: When did Gerdau Ameristeel started working on the Champions Arch?

Mario Longhi: We began planning for the build of Champions Arch in August 2009. The design was finalized in November and fabrication began during the first week of December, with construction in Miami completed on Jan. 28. 

We had an extremely skilled staff and build team (Murphy Productions) whose combined effort and dedication to the project ensured that all build times would be met according to plan. As a result, Champions Arch was unveiled on time at a public press conference.

CT: How did Gerdau Ameristeel become involved in the project?

ML: Gerdau Ameristeel was a Super Bowl Host Committee sponsor for last year’s Super Bowl in Tampa. As part of that event, we developed “Champions Landing,” which was an interactive light display made from recycled Orange Bowl steel that drew a lot of attention from the community, media and people within professional football.

We were invited this year by the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee to repurpose the Orange Bowl steel we used to build Champions Landing and combine it with steel from Dolphin Stadium to create a tribute to South Florida’s rich tradition of hosting Super Bowls. Champions Arch is the realization of that vision. 

CT: Was there any specific research that went into the development of the arch?

ML: There was quite a bit of thought and research that went into this project. South Florida has been host to more Super Bowls than any other city. We wanted to celebrate this by creating an iconic piece that would pay tribute to the region’s rich tradition of hosting Super Bowls. 

We fabricated one leg of the arch with recycled Orange Bowl steel and the other from Dolphin Stadium steel. We also featured roman numerals etched into one leg of each arch to symbolize every Super Bowl played in South Florida. The thought behind the design of the structure was that the two intersecting arches would create a visual and symbolic “passing of the ball” from one stadium to the other.

In addition, renowned steel artists George Sabara, Bryan Tedrick, Jeff Owen and Steven Dickey created 11 one-of-a-kind sculptures. Each sculpture was made from recycled steel and represented past South Florida Super Bowl champions along with this year’s (American Football Conference and National Football Conference) champions.

CT: Was this an innovative project for the company? 

ML: This was an extremely innovative project for Gerdau Ameristeel. In 2009, we developed Champions Landing for Super Bowl XLIII. That program was a huge success. When the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee approached us this year about repurposing the Orange Bowl steel we used for Champions Landing and combining it with some of the steel from Dolphin Stadium, we were excited to help out. We knew we could create that landmark piece for this year’s big game, which would visually characterize the Super Bowl’s influence during this special time for the city.

CT: What makes this project unique?

ML: Our use of recycled steel from the famed Orange Bowl and Dolphin Stadium made this project especially unique to the city of Miami. We wanted to create something that represented the look and feel of Miami, so we enlisted the help of Miami-based architect Les Beilinson of Beilinson-Gomez Architects to design a structure that would embody the city’s art-deco style. 

CT: Is there anything from the building of the arch that you will take with you to the next job?

ML: Creating Champions Arch enabled us to showcase the viability of the recycled steel to our potential customers. While many consumer brands take a shotgun approach in promoting their products or services, we were able to utilize this platform to talk specifically to our customers. The ability to clearly get our message across all spectrums of the market is something we will continue to take with us from project to project.

CT: What does Gerdau Ameristeel provide that was special for the project and made the company the right choice?

ML: Gerdau Ameristeel is the second-largest mini-mill steel producer in North America. We have recycled steel in a number of stadium projects, including the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Raymond James Stadium [in Tampa, Fla.] and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. 

CT: How will work on such a high-profile project affect the company?

ML: This project provided us with a unique opportunity to deepen relationships with critical business partners of ours. The game and ancillary events provided opportunities to create shared experiences that establish and strengthen relationships that drive our business.

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