Comment of the Day: The Best Ideas for Reinventing the Astrodome Will Come After It’s Demolished

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BEST IDEAS FOR REINVENTING THE ASTRODOME WILL COME AFTER IT’S DEMOLISHED “. . . Yes, it’s hard to find a profitable idea for it now, but if we tear it down, we could spend hundreds of years saying ‘Oh, why didn’t we just think to do this?’ Most buildings that we think of now as grand and historic went through a long time when people thought they were worthless. They came close to tearing down Notre Dame cathedral and Grand Central Station . . . and they actually did tear down Penn Station and the Abbey of Cluny. And looking back you say, ‘How was it possible?’ But almost all great buildings go through phases where it’s not obvious why it should remain standing. Better to hold off on the trigger finger.” [Mike, commenting on How Harris County Has Been Letting the Astrodome Rot]

13 Comment

  • Everyone on here should know that profits always come before design, history, and preservation.

  • tear it down. turn into park. put in a memorial replica of the dome to honor it. at this point, it’s a piece of junk.

  • Most buildings that we think of now as historic were built on the site of a previous building that would have otherwise been thought of as historic.

  • Three ideas with no basis in reality, yet somehow still believed by people:

    1. If a building is not profitable right now, it never will be.

    2. Buildings only have value to a society or culture if they can generate monetary profits in the short term.

    3. Whenever a building is destroyed, no matter how famous or historically significant, something better is usually built in its place.

  • The astrodome actually IS historically significant; its not just “thought of” as being historically significant.

  • Back when the Chronicle ran its first story on this, whether the Dome should be demolished or mothballed, it was interesting that the up-front cost of demolition was so high that it made better financial sense to maintain the Dome in mothballs in perpetuity. So to my mind, unless there’s something vitally important that the land beneath it has to be used for, the Dome should stay. It’s a no-brainer and is wholly SUPPORTED by the concept of the time value of money.

  • Since when should the future of the Astrodome be guided by what is the most economically efficient use of the site? The Astrodome was built and improved using tax dollars. It would have never existed had it been up to the free market to decide whether Houston had a professional football and baseball franchise. Heck, the Oilers left for Tenne freaking see because they did not like the money they were making in Houston. The Astrodome, for better or worse, is a public good. If tax payers want to keep it and are willing to foot the bill, it doesn’t matter whether the new use will be cost effective. The Astrodome never was and never will be. But we are all entitled to our public indulgences.

  • guys, dont confuse this sheet metal and concrete barn with a historic property. Nothing built in or after the 60’s ever will be considered historic, as meaningful architecture was already dead and construction was automated.

  • The Niche, are you feeling ok ? I saw that you posted and assumed you were posting to volunteer to light up the Dome yourself.

  • With no pretense of actual analysis, I’d like to suggest a use. Given the Dome’s skylights, huge floor and parking areas and Houston’s ever-hotter climate, why not repurpose it into an indoor park similar to the proposed Low-Line Park in New York? Cover the parking area with solar panels to shade the parking spaces and generate power for HVAC, and the thing could even be reasonably green.

  • @ Mel, I don’t know why you’re surprised at me being in favor of preservation in this instance or in general. Not only do I live in a historic building, but nearly all of my personal assets are historical real estate that have been redeveloped and operated for a profit. I like old buildings and put my money where my mouth is, but do not begrudge others the opportunity to have and act upon differing preferences…even for stucco-clad cracker-box townhomes. To that end, I think that the standard that justifies public policy intervention in aesthetic matters should be very strict.

    To my mind, the only thing that prevents a feasible re-use of the Dome is the political influence levied by the Texans and HSL&R, private entities neither of which pay property taxes on their facilities, directly or indirectly. Unless they want to cut a check to the County, their lip-flapping and random spittle should be ignored.

  • Imagine if the Shamrock Hilton were still standing. It would be a landmark. How about the old movie palaces? We could be having a revival like they have in Los Angeles.

    I’m not against tearing down old crappy buildings but it just seems that someone, somewhere could see the potential.