Reimagine the Astrodome
To launch The Architect's Newspaper's Southwest edition and to kick-off YKK AP's expansion in the region, AN and YKK APare hosting an Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Dealing in intangibles as I do, the sooner people see something like this and realize you have some ideas, the easier it is to sell your product.
—Judge Roy Hofheinz
Quote from “Giltfinger’s Golden Dome,” Sports Illustrated, April 12, 1965
Many said it was impossible, that such a thing could never be built.
Judge Roy Hofheinz paid no heed to the naysayers and pushed his pioneering Houston Astrodome through to completion. When it opened in 1965, this modern engineering marvel was dubbed The 8th Wonder of the World—Earth’s first fully enclosed, entirely air-conditioned multi-use sports stadium. Physically, it stood then, as now, at 18 stories tall, the column-free ceiling 208 feet above the playing surface, and, with its 710-foot diameter, covered 9 ½ acres. Spiritually, it embodied the technological capabilities and forward-thinking optimism that reigned supreme in Space Age America.
Today, the Astrodome is but a shadow of its former self. It hasn’t had a tenant since the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo moved out in 2003. In 2008, it was declared unfit for occupancy. In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Astrodome on its list of 2013’s 11 most endangered historic places. Shortly thereafter, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation (HCSCC) unveiled a proposal to turn the derelict structure into a mixed-use convention center capable of hosting everything from Houston’s annual Offshore Technology Conference to Indy Car races to college and high school sporting events to festivities surrounding Super Bowl LI in 2017. Known as The New Dome Experience, HCSCC’s reuse scheme involves removing the seating bowl and raising the floor to create 350,000 square feet of unimpeded, on-grade event space; opening up the envelope at the four cardinal points by replacing the existing screen wall with glass to bring in more daylight and provide views out; upgrading the building’s mechanical systems; and adding a 400,000-square-foot landscaped public plaza surrounding the structure. The Harris County Commissioners Court has put the approval of $217 million in taxpayer money to fund the project on its November 5 ballot.
While AN supports the fact that steps are being taken to save the dome, we feel that the current proposal can only be made better by an infusion of fresh ideas. For this reason, AN is partnering with YKK AP to invite architects, artists, designers, and students from the city of Houston, the state of Texas, and across America to submit their concepts on how the Astrodome might be reimagined, repurposed, and reused. The goal is to bring the same energy, innovation, and “can-do” spirit that motivated the construction of the original dome to an architectural proposal that will preserve the historic structure while giving it an imaginative future. Since this competition is being conducted independent of Harris County’s reuse/preservation efforts, it is meant to generate innovative and provocative ideas. Great aspirations and utopian schemes are welcome, as are feasible proposals that mesh with The New Dome Experience.
A jury of prominent architects and educators will select three competition winners and two honorable mentions. The top five entries will receive cash prizes generously provided by YKK AP. The first place winner will receive $2,500. Second and third place will receive $1,000 each. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. The top three and two honorable mentions will be published in print in AN’s inaugural Southwest edition, cover date November 6, 2013, which will be distributed at the 2013 Annual Convention and Design Expo of the Texas Society of Architects in Fort Worth. The top five will also receive a free 1-year subscription to AN Southwest. Other notable entries will be featured on archpaper.com.
About YKK AP
Driven by a desire to serve its customers, YKK AP America offers market-driven products backed by world-class technology and a dedication to be the very best at what it does. Consistent with the philosophies and principles of the global YKK Group, the company combines engineering, innovative system designs, and vertically integrated manufacturing processes to provide fenestration systems at the highest level of quality and at a competitive price. Commercial products are produced at the company’s manufacturing centers located in Dublin, Georgia, and Macon, Georgia. Plans for further expansion in the region to be announced in conjunction with the Texas Society of Architects 2013 Convention and Design Expo.
About The Architect's Newspaper
The Architect's Newspaper provides timely news and cultural reporting on the built environment through three regional editions—East, Midwest, and West—as well as online at archpaper.com and through a series of targeted e-newsletters. This November, AN will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the launch a Southwest edition. Focusing on the architectural community in Texas and the surrounding states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico, AN Southwest will deliver its trademark blend of topical essays, opinionated columns, project analyses, firm profiles, interviews, new products, reviews of exhibitions and books, and calendars of events in a handy and handsome full-color tabloid.
Dates & Details:
· August 28 Competition Opens
· September 17 Online Registration Closes
· October 1 Submission Deadline
· November 6 Winners Published in AN Southwest
Entrants are asked to submit a digital visualization of their proposal as well as a written description of no more than 300 words in length by October 1, 2013.
Entry fee $50 for architects and other design professionals, $20 for students. ($10 off the entry fee for those who register by September 6.)
Sheryl Kolasinski, FAIA, deputy director of the Menil Collection
Patricia Belton Oliver, FAIA, dean of Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston
Robert M. Rogers, FAIA, principal at Rogers Partners
Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, principal at PageSoutherlandPage, professor at University of Texas School of Architecture, 2013 president of the Texas Society of Architects
Bryan K. Trubey, AIA, principal/director at HKS Sports & Entertainment Group
Sarah M. Whiting, Ph.D., principal at WW Architecture, dean and professor at Rice School of Architecture
For questions about the Reimagine the Astrodome competition, please email Aaron Seward, AN's Managing Editor and Southwest Editor.
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