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Video: The Metrodome collapse and the shifting symbolism of the domed stadium

December 13, 2010 |  2:15 pm

Superdome There was a time when the domed stadium was a leading architectural symbol of modernity and American building prowess. When Houston's Astrodome opened in 1965, for example, it was hailed as an engineering breakthrough and as the Eighth Wonder of the World; its clear span of 642 feet was more than double the size of any interior space ever built.

In recent years, however, the dome -- as a building type and a representation of American might -- has been taking it on the chin. The Astrodome has been abandoned and is now used to store idle vans and trucks as Houston architects debate possible future uses for it.

In New Orleans, meanwhile, the Superdome became synonymous with despair and destruction when its roof was torn off by Hurricane Katrina and a few days later began serving as a leaky, squalid and dystopian temporary home for residents displaced by the storm.

Metrodome The latest sign of the dome's demise as a symbol of progress and expertise came this weekend, when a heavy snowfall caused the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis -- designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and completed in 1982 -- to collapse. The damage means the Minnesota Vikings, the dome's key remaining tenant after the Twins moved to a new baseball-only stadium, will be forced to play a "home" game Monday night against the New York Giants at Detroit's Ford Field.

One of the most dramatic videos of architectural failure you'll ever see is after the jump.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Photographs: Top, the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images. Middle: The collapsed Metrodome. Credit: EPA/Craig Lassig. Bottom: Fox Sports video via YouTube.