The stadium first opened in 1965 as the "Harris County Domed Stadium" to host Major League Baseball's Houston Astros. The franchise's sale to former Houston Mayor Roy Hofheinz was predicated on construction of the innovative building, on the premise that Houston's scorching temperatures and oppressive humidity made major league play in an open-air stadium unattractive.
Designed by Hermon Lloyd & W.B Morgan, and Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson, the Reliant Astrodome is 18 stories high and sprawls 9.5 acres. The structure was the forerunner of other domed stadiums such as the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, which notoriously housed thousands of people fleeing Hurricane Katrina.
The Astrodome spurred the popularization of AstroTurf -- a synthetic turf originally called Chemgrass -- even in open-air stadiums. The sport surface was installed in the venue because the dome's cover inhibited the growth of natural grass.
Billie Jean King and Muhammad Ali both won in the Astrodome, as did the University of Houston Cougars in what's been called NCAA basketball's "Game of the Century." Since being retired as a sports stadium in the early 2000s, after its home teams migrated to other sports venues, the Astrodome has faced an identity crisis, languishing without a clear purpose. One proposal called for converting the structure into an amusement park (as Germany did with a nuclear plant).
But no firm plans to breath new life into the historic structure have materialized, and in the meantime, the world's first domed stadium has deteriorated to the extent that visitors must sign waivers to enter it. The Houston Press recently took a tour through the abandoned, deteriorating Astrodome, shooting the photos in the above gallery that capture the building's now ghostly atmosphere.
For all the house porn addicts, mind-blowing price tags, tens of thousands of square feet and double staircases are enough to satisfy their cravings for residential eye candy. At some point, however, those staples of grandeur might lose their luster. And if that sad day does arrive, they'll be left wondering what went wrong.
But house oglers shouldn't despair: As it turns out, there's a whole other world of rich, eye-pleasing properties that can rekindle the magic: conversions. And we're not just referring to your regular old office-to-co-op conversions -- we're talking much bigger stuff -- missile silos, nuclear plants, churches, to name a few.
Click through our gallery to see some of the most offbeat, quirky conversions around.
This conversion may not be a home, but we're making an exception because, come on -- how can you give the short shrift to an amusement park that's been constructed out of a nuclear plant? Giving a 1 million pound reactor quite the makeover, Wunderland theme park is in Kalkar, Germany, and features hotel rooms, bars, amusement park rides and restaurants.
Touted as the world's most sophisticated nuclear plant, construction on the reactor began in 1972. But Chernobyl was a huge buzz, and prompted public outcry noisy enough to halt its construction. It sat dormant until a Dutch businessman snatched it up and transformed it into an entertainment complex that sees 600,000 visitors a year.
Built in 1892, this home was the "Ships of the Sea Museum" until it underwent a full-blown makeover that transformed it into a luxury home. The home offers stunning views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
The home has an elevator that lifts you up through three stories brimming with "custom finishes and fine craftsmanship," according to the listing. You can also use the home's winding glass staircase if you want a little exercise.
How about that! Apparently, a residence in Soest, Utrecht, Netherlands rests inside the sturdy shell of a what used to be a water tower. By the looks of a blueprint of the tower we found on TreeHugger.com, the structure has 7 floors.
Location: Carmel Valley, Calif.
Price: $2.95 million
Sq. Ft.: 21,718
With Armageddon just around the corner (according to the Mayans), house hunters may want to start thinking about how to ride out all that impending fire and brimstone. This converted 10-story satellite dish built to withstand a five-megaton nuclear hit is one option.