The ongoing dilemma of what to do with the Astrodome has been one of the more amusing sideshows in Houston over the past couple of years. We’ve seen suggestions ranging from turning it into a massive parking garage or a monument to Billie Jean King to just continuing to use it as a massive indoor, climate-controlled storage facility for the city of Houston. Meanwhile, new proposals continue to pop up that offer further prospects of Astrodoom turning into Astrogreatness.
The latest proposal, though, is something in-between: building a massive park on the site and—in the middle—placing a Tiny Astrodome as a monument to the former Eighth Wonder.
This new proposal, featuring a design by the Houston office of global architecture firm Gensler, puts the city one step closer to move forward with the Astrodome. Or a step backward, depending on how you look at it, seeing as the plans call for replacing it with… a tiny Astrodome.
The ribs of the (original) stadium would be preserved, forming a sort of skeletal Stonehenge that would serve as an outline for new public programming, from concerts to festivals. The plan’s boosters say that it would improve circulation to and from Reliant Stadium, home to Houston’s rodeo and NFL squad.
Generally speaking, it’s hard not to be for this—tiny things are adorable. Plus, the plans call for the tiny Astrodome to serve as an Astrodome museum, so the fact that it once hosted the Battle Of The Sexes tennis match (or that, once upon a time the idea of a building like the Astrodome was so far-fetched that it was considered a feat on-par with the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Colossues of Rhodes) would not be lost to history.
The current Astrodome is 1,000,000 square feet with a seating capacity of 60,000 at the time it was last used for football. Tiny Astrodome, as we will forever refer to it because that is an adorable name, is significantly less wondrous: the proposal calls for a 25,000-square-foot building with a seating capacity of 300-500, most of which would take place in the Tiny Astrodome Cafe, which we presume will sell tiny nachos, tiny hot dogs, and more tiny versions of foods that were once full-sized in the Astrodome proper. There’d be a gift shop, a series of exhibits highlighting, say, Earl Campbell or Harmon Killebrew, a couple bathrooms, and a gift shop where people—we sincerely hope—could buy tiny versions of the Tiny Astrodome, until the entire building is basically Inception-ed into a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny version of itself. That’s about all that the Tiny Astrodome has room for, which is probably enough.
Of course, if recent history tells us anything, it’s that any attempt to do anything with the Astrodome site tends to fail, so this may all be a mere pipe dream. But it does speak to the importance of the Astrodome in the Houston psyche, that the proposal to destroy the building and replace it with something functional to people in the community still maintains that, at the very least, the shape and history of the Astrodome be preserved. We like Tiny Astrodome way better than Massive Parking Garage or Giant Climate-Controlled Storage Facility.
(rendering of Tiny Astrodome via Rodeo Houston)