Texans would prefer that we forget San Antonio’s Alamodome, as they’ve christened it the ugliest building in the state. Business Insider asked readers to name one “architectural eyesore” they despise in their state. In Texas, that dubious distinction went to the Alamodome. "Dishonorable mention" went to The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, also in Alamo City.
“Architecture is a form of art. When a city constructs a new building, it should add beauty to its streetscape,” Business Insider says. “But that doesn’t always happen. Every town across the United States likely has a tower, a government complex, or an office building that residents wish never went up.”
In the case of Texas, it appears that some residents wish the Alamodome had never gone up.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who was mayor of San Antonio when the Alamodome was designed and constructed, has recalled that critics trashed the venue’s design as “four telephone poles on an airplane hangar” or “an upside-down armadillo.”
Both of those disses refer to the cables suspended from four 300-foot-high masts that support the roof. According to a 1994 article published by Building Design & Construction, the 9-acre roof was the initial focus of design work, given the impact it would have on the project’s look and expense.
The magazine says the Alamodome was meant to “have an unusual design that would symbolize San Antonio and be compatible with both the city’s historic and new architecture.”
The city-owned Alamodome opened in May 1993. It cost about $186 million to build. The City of San Antonio says the venue is “consistently noted as one of the nation’s leading destinations for meetings and events.”
Not everyone shares that upbeat observation. For instance, Bob McSpadden, founder of TexasBob.com, calls the Alamodome “Post Modern Ugly.”
Despite the design debate, the Alamodome remains a popular venue, and it recently underwent nearly $60 million worth of renovations.
This year, the Alamodome will be the site of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. From 1993 to 2002, the Alamodome was the home arena for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Today, the 65,000-seat venue hosts trade shows, conventions, concerts, sporting events, and major events like Disney on Ice and the Valero Alamo Bowl.
In announcing a sponsorship deal with the Alamodome, Leni Kirkman, senior vice president of strategic communications and patient relations for University Health System, recently praised the Alamodome as “an iconic San Antonio landmark and an important community resource.”