Here’s an Award-Winning Vision of the Astrodome, Loaded Up with Valuables and Floating Out to Sea

Rendering of Floating Astrodome by HiWorks Architecture and Erica Goranson

Sure it’s dug 35 ft. into the earth now, but who’s to say sometime after an additional 3 decades or so of mulling it over we couldn’t insert a steel hull under the thing — so that when the waters of the rising Gulf came for Houston, the Astrodome, stuffed with valuables and maybe a species specimen or two, couldn’t just up and spirit itself away? Of course in this scenario the whole Reliant Park area has already reverted to swamp, and raised-seawall Galveston’s been entirely underwater for a number of spring break cycles. It’s 2050, and after an extra water surge from Hurricane Rick — Rick? — overcomes the submerged island’s new dike, Houston has just a little bit of time left to get the Dome up on moorings, so the gently but steadily rising waters can lift it and carry it off to sea.

“One of the best things about this proposal,” writes the distinguished Reliant Stadium-loathing jury, not missing a beat, “is that it gets the dome away from its neighbor.” And so: second prize for “The Houston Ark,” by San Antonio architects Brantley Hightower (of HiWorks) and Erica Goranson (of Lake Flato Architects), in the strangely timed whatever-shall-become-of-the-Astrodome design competition sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper and the zippy folks at YKK AP, whose winners were announced earlier this month.

What would this cargo-laden Astrodome carry?


Rendering of Floating Astrodome by HiWorks Architecture and Erica Goranson

“The libraries of Rice and the University of Houston,” write the designers, “along with the collections of the MFAH and The Menil Collection as well as the specimens of the Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Zoo.” Plus the rendering above makes it looks like they’ve stuffed Rice’s Lovett Hall administration building in there too.

Surely, though, planning for a project of this scale would put the county’s finances underwater. Or, if compared to monumental efforts required to fend off rising tides from the Gulf of Mexico, would it all seem a wash? As the designers describe the scene 37 years from now, the Astrodome would be on a mission:

It first sailed east, slowly making its way above what had been the I-10 corridor until it met up with both the New Orleans and St. Petersburg Arks, which had been anchored for years above Lake Charles. The three domes spent the next two weeks securing themselves to one another and synchronizing their control systems before sailing over the flooded State of Florida and turning north to meet up with the assembled Arks of the Eastern Seaboard.

Renderings: HiWorks with Erica Goranson

The Houston Ark

10 Comment

  • Stupid! This is the future of architecture, people with no vision who can draw. Again STUPID! peace

  • With a few rockets, and an on-board light show, we could make it like the spaceship from Close Encounters. We could build a replica of the Devil’s Tower on the AstroWorld lot.

  • This dome business has now passed the point of absurdity.

  • I believe the water would be a darker shade of brown if it was from the Gulf.

  • Nice drawings. Obviously a piece of science fiction, which I love. Since no one is going to save the Astrodome, why not envision fantastic scenarios for it? After all, the only realistic scenario is, alas, rubble.

  • Although if we could get it out to sea, it might make a kickass reef. Dive Astrodome anyone? Question, does is asbestos harmless once it is wet or will it get in the fishes gills?

  • I can’t believe this was the best they had and gave it an award. At his rate why don’t we just move the Astrodome to Mars and use it as a base camp for space missions.

  • I’m a naval architect and I will say that they did a pretty good job with the structural cross section.

  • Stupid crap like this makes it harder for the real proposals to gain attention, and throws a comic air over the whole preservation effort. Is that the Philadelphia skyline?

  • How stupid with the Philadelphia skyline in the background. LOL!