Wednesday, June 19, 2013

County moving forward with my 2003 Astrodome proposal (sorta)

OK, maybe that's a little bit of a stretch.  Back in 2003, I formally submitted a proposal to make the Astrodome a climate-controlled festival events venue.  At the time, it was passed over for the big money hotel conversion that never was able to get off the ground.  Today, HCSCC rejected 19 private proposals and approved their official proposal to Harris County: "convert it to a state-of-the-art conference and exposition center capable of hosting a large number of sports, convention or community events."  Not exactly the same, but pretty similar.  Just took them 10 years to circle back to it ;-) Obviously the Rodeo and OTC are thrilled.  NFL should be excited for the Super Bowl too.  Conversion estimates are 30 months and $194 million.

My second idea, the National Museum of Technology and Innovation (STEM/engineering focus), was included as part of the very impressive Astrodome Tomorrow proposal that was rejected, primarily for financing reasons I suspect.  Although HCSCC claims they will be integrating the best elements of the private proposals, so pieces may end up in the final plan.  I still think NMTI is a great idea for Houston, but have received feedback over the years that the Astrodome is probably not the right facility, so this may be for the best.  I hope the concept is able to move forward at a different location at some point (maybe in the Museum District or on the post office land downtown).

While I am very glad to see the Astrodome get preserved rather than demolished (it was added to a most endangered American landmark list today), I'm disappointed they're talking about filling in all of the facility that's below ground (~25 feet deep).  That seems like such a waste.  I understand that they want the floor at ground level, and that's fine, but build an elevated floor and keep the space underneath.  Even if it doesn't get finished out now, maybe one day it will get a use.  Why expensively fill it in with dirt or concrete?  At the very worst it could be storage.  Or parking!  A space 20+ feet high and probably about the size of two football fields is nothing to throw away, even if requires support columns breaking up the space.  Hopefully the plan is, uh..., not set in concrete ;-)

UPDATE: Here is the official presentation document of the new plan.



At 10:54 AM, June 24, 2013, Anonymous dom said...

To me, this whole process was a farce. They knew what they wanted to select.. and what they selected would only compete with downtown which I don't understand. Sure the HLSR will be able to use the space, but they could also have used fairgrounds under the metal skeleton of the astrodome.

At 2:52 PM, June 24, 2013, Anonymous Mike said...

I would be interested in more details as to why people thought the Astrodome was not the right facility for a Science/Tech museum. I can understand the concrete surroundings being a factor, and that it doesn't exactly jive with football and the rodeo.

At 3:51 PM, June 24, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Both of those reasons, plus it's not an inherently interesting/walkable/touristy part of town like the Museum District or Downtown would be. There's also the old building rehabilitation cost vs. clean-sheet design with new architecture specifically tailored for the museum concept.


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