Never one to pass up a chance to build a towering statue along the highway, legendary Houston artist David Adickes has signed on to design the largest project of his career — an 80-foot concrete astronaut at I-45 and NASA Parkway that would tower over the famous Sam Houston statue in size.
The impressive statue will stand above a newly-proposed education center dedicated to the Apollo space program and its historic moon landings. The City of Webster, which owns the land for the project, will partner with the Apollo and Beyond nonprofit to raise funds for this new space center.
The statue and Apollo center, neither of which have any direct affiliation with NASA, are expected to lure as many as 800,000 visitors a year to a community still hurting from the federal agency's cancellation of the space shuttle program in 2011.
"This would be an icon, for not only Webster but NASA and this whole south part of Texas."
"This would be an icon, for not only Webster but NASA and this whole south part of Texas," Adickes tells KTRK Channel 13 about his monumental art project. "The excitement comes when I actually start trying to figure out how to do it and where it's going to be done. All the details, that's the fun part."
The artist envisions a 1960s-era astronaut triumphantly planting an American flag onto a 50-foot pedestal that will feature a small museum.
Like the Statue of Liberty or the San Jacinto monument — and unlike Adickes' 67-foot Sam Houston statue in Huntsville — the astronaut would include an elevator to lift visitors atop its massive helmet for sweeping views of Houston and Galveston. The towering Apollo homage has an anticipated cost of $5 million, with an additional $25 million required for the education center.
Organizers say the 20,000-square-foot complex, currently dubbed the Apollo and Beyond Center, also will serve as a sort of business and technology incubator for a region with deep ties to the aerospace industry. Multi-purpose meeting areas will host conferences and talks aimed at bringing together area tech talent with international firms.