What does the Astrodome mean to the movement to preserve modernism?

After losing at the ballot box, the Astrodome appears to be on life support as pressure mounts to tear down the vacant engineering and architectural marvel. To some this is representative of the ongoing preservation battle being waged on behalf of modernist architecture. To other’s it is purely economics. Should we, as a people, be working to preserve objects from the modernist movement, and how exactly does the iconic Astrodome fit into that equation? More from NextCity:

Has the nation made the Astrodome into a powerful and motivating symbol of modernism’s plight? No, but that actually shows a positive acceptance of the style. Few media reports of the referendum this week even discussed the building’s style, let alone the usual quibbling over appreciation of modern design. Reporters quoted voters more concerned about the cost of the proposed renovation. The vote went down peacefully, without much of the palpable outcry that led to the recent preservation victory for Hilario Candela’s Miami Marine Stadium.

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Until its closure in 1999, the Astrodome was the broadcast setting to mainstream sporting events, concerts and oddities like daredevil Evil Knievel’s jump over 13 cars in 1971 and Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King’s tennis match (the “Battle of the Sexes”) in 1973. Most recently, the mighty structure seared itself into the epic and unresolved recovery narrative of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of refugee Americans made the Astrodome into a camp in 2005, turning the stadium into a panopticon of despair.

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  • Jonathan Hay

    It’s a difficult topic, as a society we need to determine how much of our finite resources we should commit to saving which structures. I think we need to focus on the true gems, but who decides what the true gems are? In Cincinnati, I believe our focus should be on preserving music hall and union terminal.