A San Antonio Architect’s Vision of a Better Saturn V Shelter for Rocket Park

Proposed Building for Saturn V Rocket, Rocket Park, Houston

The Saturn V rocket originally planned to boost a never-happened Apollo 18 spaceflight has been lying on its side near the corner of Saturn Ln. and 2nd St. and aimed at Lake Jackson since 1977. An air-conditioned, metal-framed structure was built around the Smithsonian-owned hulk 10 years ago to protect it from the elements, but it makes it difficult for visitors to appreciate just how hulking the rocket is. And recently the new structure has begun to look a bit dilapidated as well. Unprompted by any government agency or basketball team, San Antonio architect Brantley Hightower has been floating a proposal to wrap a more permanent structure around Houston’s most prominent rocketship — one that would restore the drive-by view of its full length (above) that the existing enclosure ruined, and make it clear just how big the Saturn V was:


Proposed Building for Saturn V Rocket, Rocket Park, Houston

Inside, catwalks would allow views from above. And the building would include facilities for exhibits, lectures, and special events.

Proposed Building for Saturn V Rocket, Rocket Park, Houston

Proposed Building for Saturn V Rocket, Rocket Park, Houston

Hightower doesn’t imagine his Saturn V Pavilion will ever become real, but says it’s “something that could be built.” That doesn’t sound like too bad a match for a launch vehicle that never flew. It also marks a giant step closer to construction from a previous Houston proposal he worked on: a repurposing of the Astrodome as a Houston Ark.

Renderings: Brantley Hightower/HiWorks Architecture

Houston Rockets

9 Comment

  • If the goal is to make it visible, then stand it up vertically. Don’t spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a pretty shed.

  • Yeah, this looks like shit. I really hope this gets derailed.

  • Oh wait, it some stupid architecture project at like UTSA. WTF? Very slow day at Swamplot or some kind of quid pro quo with Gus.

  • And people wonder why we did not get a shuttle (ok maybe only 1 person is still wondering). We had Apollo 18 sitting on jackstands in the driveway like a ’79 Camaro for 25 years and then when the HOA complained we wrapped it in an aluminum shed from the hardware store.

    I may not like some of the styles of this drawing but agree it needs to be seen again. And Space Center needs to let people linger and admire it…not take a shuttle to it only to be ushered out after 15 minutes.

    And SuperDave I’m no engineer but my guess is standing it up is not structurally possible after 42 years….plus then no one can see detail of the late stages and the capsule.

  • @Superdave: Visibility is a concern but not the only concern. Regardless of orientation a structure is needed to protect it from the elements.

  • They did something pretty similar for the Saturn V in Huntsville, AL:


    Remember that the Saturn V is actually a greater artifact than the space shuttle (it went to the moon, space shuttle went nowhere), and there are only 3 of them.

  • meh, anything they can do with it will be better than current, but nothing would have been better than to have the smithsonian revamp the dome, move in this, move in a real space shuttle perched on top of the 747, and make it the manned space flight smithsonian museum.
    that would have been epic, but no one that’s in a position to make a difference thinks of awesome ideas like me, so whatever. I’ll keep dreaming and being disappointed.

  • kids could learn more playing a 15min NASA video game then they could in visiting this thing. just dump this all in the aircraft boneyards out in Arizona where it belongs and all our wasted money can be forgotten.

  • I’d rather see the Saturn V, the rest of the NASA visitors center and any other air and space craft in mothballs moved to the Astrodome. The dome is closer to the city center, is much more accessible, and has sat unused for far too long.