Last year, a contest to reimagine uses of the Astrodome contained several imaginative proposals. None of them were under any serious or official consideration, but all of them featured the unfettered imaginations of world-class architects at work. They included turning the 8th Wonder of the World into a giant parking garage, or into a monument to Billie Jean King. But the most compelling was an idea submitted by San Antonio-based HiWorks Architecture. Dubbed “The Houston Ark,” the proposal suggested turning the Astrodome into a floating saucer in the event that sea levels rose and the people of Houston needed a safe place to ride out mankind’s extinction.
HiWorks hasn’t stopped thinking about Houston, apparently, and they sent over some ideas for their next never-to-be-considered modest proposal for the city: what architect Brantley Hightower describes as “a re-imagination of the structure that currently houses the Saturn V rocket on display at the Johnson Space Center.”
According to a press release from Hightower, the current structure that houses the Saturn V is basically a big garage that hides, rather than displays, the beauty of the engineering marvel:
“You have no idea that the pinnacle of twentieth-century engineering is sitting inside that metal building,” Hightower said. “It’s like they entombed it and in doing so took away so much of the power it has to inspire. It’s not that the building needs to draw attention to itself but what exists now is not appropriate. Its not good architecture.”
Hightower graciously reconceived the building for the Space Center, and while it doesn’t have the sci-fi utility of the Houston Ark, it’s a legitimate answer to a conundrum that is unlikely to ever be taken seriously. This could exist, in other words—but it probably won’t.
Take a look at Hightower’s ideas for how to show off “the pinnacle of twentieth-century engineering” below: