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

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.


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.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.