Okay, Discovery TV engineers, we’re all on board with your idea of building a ginormous, 1-mile-diameter, 1500-foot high dome over Houston. Dibs on the thermostat!
Too bad, though: It looks like all that lightweight geodesic Buckminster Fullery goodness only gets you coverage over . . . Downtown. Isn’t that all air-conditioned already?
We’re especially looking forward to the next episode of Mega Engineering, where you describe that giant ring-moat bayou drainage bypass carved through swathes of Midtown and the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Wards they’ve gotta be planning to go with this.
So . . . how’s the Houston Dome supposed to work?
First of all, that’s a steel frame made of 369,000 narrow struts. Fitted into it: 147,000 hexagonal panels infilled with super-lightweight 3-ply Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, or ETFE.
Think of it as a big half-ball of of chicken wire, fitted with triple-thick inflated plastic baggies. Except, you know, a whole lot stronger. ETFE was used to dramatic effect on the “Water Cube” built for the Beijing Olympics.
And all those blimps? That’s the “army of dirigibles,” used for scaffolding.
- Explore The Houston Dome [Discovery Channel]
- Mega Engineering (first 4 videos) [Discovery Channel]
- Water Cube “Wears Its Coat” [Beijing 2008]