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?
“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.
- Reimagine the Astrodome [The Architect’s Newspaper]
- Astrodome coverage [Swamplot]
- Previously on Swamplot; Now’s Maybe the Best Time To Enjoy a Parade of Astrodome Alternatives
Renderings: HiWorks with Erica Goranson