As voters debate the merits of Harris County Commissioner Court's $217 million plan to renovate the Astrodome into the New Dome Experience, one publication doesn't think the current proposal properly honors the Dome's legacy as an iconic example of Space Age design. The Architect's Newspaper is launching its Southwest Edition with a design contest titled "Reimagine the Astrodome" that aims to "bring the same energy, innovation, and 'can-do' spirit that motivated the construction of the original dome to an architectural proposal that will preserve the historic structure while giving it an imaginative future."
Writing on its website that "AN supports the fact that steps are being taken to save the dome, we feel that the current proposal can only be made better by an infusion of fresh ideas." Therefore the publication calls on "architects, artists, designers, and students from the city of Houston, the state of Texas, and across America" to propose better ways to renovate the Astrodome and preserve its legacy.
A six member jury, including representatives from The Menil, UH and Rice, will declare a winner, who will receive a $2,500 cash prize.
If all that sounds familiar, maybe that's because Commissioners' Court already requested proposals that included the highly imaginative plan by University of Houston architecture student Ryan Slattery, whose thesis proposed stripping the dome to its steel skeleton and putting in a park. As none of those proposals included sufficient ideas about how to pay for them, the Commissioners rejected more creative solutions in favor of the current, practical plan.
This contest is being held independently of the vote and the New Dome Experience. Its goal is simply to "generate innovative and provocative ideas. Great aspirations and utopian schemes are welcome," the website states.
A six member jury, including representatives from The Menil Collection, the University of Houston and Rice University, will declare a winner, who will receive a $2,500 cash prize. Second and third will receive $1,000 and two honorable mentions will each receive $250. AN will publish all five proposals in its first issue, which is expected to have a Nov. 6 publish date.
That's one day after the Astrodome bond issue will be voted on.