- More than $100 million of construction renovations to Houston's historic Astrodome, The Houston Chronicle reported, will have to wait until early next year, after the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is scheduled to take place at the neighboring NRG Stadium.
- Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., which owns the side-by-side Astrodome and NRG Stadium, both part of NRG Park, said it would be too much of a logistical challenge for construction crews to work while the rodeo is going on next door. In addition, abatement crews are scheduled to start work soon on removing the remaining asbestos from the old sports venue. That process is expected to take a year.
- The county is no doubt looking forward to the end of the renovation and to a time when the facility will start generating revenue to front the approximately $170,000 a year it takes to maintain the building. Plans are to raise the Astrodome floor, where the nine indoor acres of the facility will host events, and to create an underground parking area underneath.
Because the Astrodome has historic status, regulations forbid its demolition. This is the type of situation that can be frustrating to designers and contractors as they try to create a new modern space.
The group that is redeveloping the KeyArena in Seattle is grappling with these issues as it will virtually rebuild the entire venue under a roofline that is protected by historical preservation laws. The $700 million project includes demolition of five buildings, a skate park, two plazas, a surface parking lot and a loading area; removal of the arena' south façade; an atrium lobby entrance; below-grade parking; and a new arena that will accommodate up to 19,000 people, host one or two professional sports franchises and hold concerts and other events.
The same goes for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's design for the $1 billion redevelopment of Chicago's historic Cook County Hospital. Even though the space will be converted into a 210-room hotel with 70,000 square feet of medical space and a 4,000-square-foot museum focused on the building's history, contractors and the design team must also establish and execute a plan to restore the 102-year-old building's Beaux Arts façade.
According to National Park Service guidelines for contractors performing work on historic structures, these type of projects requires the identification of which of the building's elements need protection and then the preservation and maintenance can take place. Typical practices include using the gentlest cleaners and repairing rather than replacing important original design elements. New work should also not detract from historical features.