Retrodome

When you ask an architect why she went into the business, the answer you'll often hear is "to create something that will be around long after I'm gone." She might be thinking about the Mayan temples or the Roman Colosseum, but times have changed. The Astrodome was the Eighth Wonder of the World when it opened in 1965; hardly even middle-aged in human years, a time when most adults would be establishing careers and supporting their pimple-popping teens, the stadium already has become a retired architectural has-been, searching for a reason to live.

To save the onetime engineering marvel from spending its remaining days hosting dog shows and monster truck rallies, designers are searching for answers to what to do with the first domed stadium in history. To whet the appetites of the 2012 Olympic Committee, a proposal already has been floated to construct a see-through roof for an indoor track and field stadium. The Rice Design Alliance will do its part with a daylong charette, Astrodome: The Old New Thing, in which architects, after a tour, will break off into design teams to draft proposals for how to turn the facility into something useful.

Indoor artificial ski slopes? The most planned of planned communities? (No more unwanted rain while you're mowing your lawn!) The best proposals will be put up for judging and public viewing at 4:30 p.m., and the winners will be announced at 6 p.m., followed by a brief discussion. Cite magazine also will be accepting entries for design proposals through September, for those who want to take a little more time on their submissions. The more ideas, the better. (The ultimate aviary!) This old girl is one landmark we'd like to see stick around after we're gone, in whatever capacity we can come up with. (Hmm… Don't we need another outlet mall?)

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dylan Otto Krider