University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Robert J. Minchew Houston Astrodome Architectural and Engineering Collection

Descriptive Summary

Creator Minchew, Robert J.
Title Robert J. Minchew Houston Astrodome Architectural and Engineering Collection
Dates: 1928-1990
Abstract: Robert J. Minchew was the on-site architect during the construction of the Houston Astrodome. Papers, newspaper clippings, films, photographs, blueprints and correspondence documenting his career and his work on the Houston Astrodome. Forms part of the Touring Entertainment Industry Archive.
Accession No. [AR 94-274; 94-371]
Extent 21 ft.
Language English.
Repository The University of Texas at Austin, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Biographical Note

Robert J. Minchew was the on-site architect during the construction of the Houston Astrodome, which opened in April 1965. He worked for the architect firm Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson. Minchew was educated at Rice University and was a member of the Construction Specifications Institute.

Scope and Contents

Construction files, research files, legal documents, financial documents, newspaper clippings, films, magazines, photographs, drawings, blueprints and correspondence document the career of Robert J. Minchew and his work on the Houston Astrodome and other construction projects. The bulk of the material focuses on the Astrodome, originally called Harris County Domed Stadium, in Houston, Texas. Judge Roy Hofheinz, owner of the Houston Astros, developed the idea for the Astrodome, the world’s first multi-purpose domed stadium. After its completion the Astrodome became known as the “eighth wonder of the world.” The records include correspondence, meeting records, and reports from all contributing parties including architects: Herman Lloyd and W.B. Morgan, and Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, the construction company: H.A. Lott Inc. and the engineers: Walter P. Moore: Lockwood, Andrews and Newman: John J. Turney and Robert J. Cummins office. The Astrodome files cover specific aspects of construction including the foundation, physical plant, roof structure, skylight, parking lot, and fallout shelter. Areas inside the Astrodome include the sound system, seating, concession, graphics, and grass. Materials record the completion of the Astrodome including punch lists, testing, inspection, publicity, and awards received. Financial files provide estimates and record funds. The collection includes legal files of the litigation between the Houston Sports Association and Harris County including depositions regarding roof leakage. Media records document the publicity surrounding the Astrodome during its construction and completion. Other documented construction projects Robert Minchew contributed to include the City of Longview, Texas, police and courts building, Hallmark II, and the Houston Livestock Rodeo Exhibition.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Use of film material by appointment only; please contact repository for details.

Use Restrictions

Portions of this collection are stored remotely at the Library Storage Facility; at least 72 hours notice is required.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Minchew, Robert J.--Archives.
Astrodome (Houston, Tex.).
Astrodome (Houston, Tex.)--Photographs.
Architecture, Modern--United States—20th century.
Public buildings--Texas--Houston.
Sports facilities--Texas--Houston.

Related Material

Forms part of the Touring Entertainment Archive.

Separated Material

Some material has been separated to the Artifacts Collection.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Robert J. Minchew Houston Astrodome Architectural and Engineering Collection, 1928-1990, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Detailed Description of the Papers


At Library Storage Facility:

94-274/1 Astrodome Project
Facility reference
Ancher Romero and Company, California State Fair Exhibition, August 1958
Cow Palace, San Francisco, undated
Detroit: The Newest Convention City, 1963
District of Columbia Stadium Dedication, 1961
Economic analysis of the proposed Honolulu stadium, 1966
Engineering and economic study District of Columbia Stadium, 1958
Las Vegas convention center, 1958
Polo grounds, undated
Plan and detail sheets for sports and civic center, designed by James and Harriss, AIA, Atlanta, Georgia , undated
Report on the economic feasibility of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition center, 1954
Study of development costs Coliseum and Stock Show, South Main Street and O.S.T. site, March 1960
Tulsa State Fairgrounds, 1958
Stadium reference
Arena Auditorium Stadium Guides, 1959-1960
The general conditions of the contract for the construction of buildings, 1963
Research notes on domes, 1961-1962
Urban planning
1950 United States Census of Population: Houston, Texas, 1950
City Planning Commission Annual Reports, 1955-1957
Houston Facts and Figures for Houston Area Businessmen, undated
New residential electric connections, 1958
Projected freeways, 1958
Typical wage rates in the Houston Area, 1958
Urban Planning guide, undated
Harris County Domed Stadium planning
Coliseum general requirements, undated
Construction specifications institute, 1962-1963
Correspondence, assembling the team contractual matters, 1958-1964
Harris County Board of Park Commissioners meeting, 1958
Information relating to the preliminary bidding, 1961
Planning notes, undated
Preliminary Architectural Program and site area considerations, 1958
Site evaluation, 1958
Plans and Specifications for Harris County Domed Stadium, Addendum I, October 1962
Specifications for Harris County Domed Stadium, 1961
94-274/2 Construction documents for Harris County Domed Stadium, 1962
Addendum to the plans and specifications for covered dome:
Addendum #1, 2, 3, 3-A, 4
94-274/3 Addendum #4, 4-A, 5
Items to be classified, 1962
Time line of stadium completion, 1962
Drawings, January 24, 1961
Drawing of roof sections, 1973
Drawings, undated
Field drawings, 1963
Fireplace drawings, 1958
Processed shop drawings, 1963-1964
Shop drawings reinforcing, 1963
Transmittal receipts
Shop drawing transmittal waiting for sepia tracings, 1963
Shop drawings requiring re-submittal, 1963
Shop drawings sent to Chris Vaught, 1963
Shop drawings sent to I.A. Naman and Associates, 1963
Shop drawings sent to Roof Structures Inc., 1963
Walter P. Moore transmittal file, 1965
AmBridge Standard Steel Stadiums, 1959
CADRE industries corporation, undated
Concrete grandstands, undated
Graver Tank, 1961
Kalwall translucent structural panels, 1958
Midland, undated
North American Aviation, 1960
OSRAM high-pressure xenon lamps, undated
Petrical Acoustical Deck, 1975
Photo composing machine, undated
Precast grilles, 1964
Radiant lamp, undated
Rivet fasteners, undated
Silicone construction sealant, 1965
Super skylight, 1965
Ther-mo-roof, 1960
Tnemec coatings, 1965
Lumber and its utilization, The Lamella Roof, 1928
H.A. Lott, material description and quantity, undated
Construction material brochures, 1958-1962
Materials reports, 1963
Hardware Schedules, 1962-1963
TNEMEC company catalog, 1968
94-274/4 Architects and consultants
Associated Stadium Architects, September 1967
Consulting engineers pamphlets, 1958-1962
H.E. Bovay Jr., consulting engineers, August 1958
International consultants and YUBA, 1960
Jeffrey Lindsay, 1960-1961
North American Aviation, 1960
Schjedahl and Birdair, 1960-1961
S.I. Morris Associates, 1972
Synergetics, 1960
Wendell Beard Consulting Engineer, undated
Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson office directory, undated
Architect and consultants correspondence
Fisk Electric Company, 1963
L.P. Kooken Company, undated
Lett, Johnson, Drake, and Piper, 1964-1965
Lockwood, Andrews, and Newman, 1958
Mulhouser, Holms, and Riggs, 1964
Wilson, Morris, Crane, and Anderson, 1961-1975
Construction correspondence, July 1958-October 1959
94-274/5 Construction correspondence, January 1960-April 1964
94-274/6 Construction correspondence, May 1964-October 1965
94-274/7 Construction correspondence, undated
Application and data for Architects, 1958-1959
Architect and consultant meetings, 1971
Job meeting reports, 1962-1965
Architect’s questions, 1961
Architect’s notes, 1961-1964
Meeting notes, 1960-1966
Daily reports, 1962
94-274/8 Daily reports, 1963
Copies of engineers’ field books, 1974-1975
Engineering reports, 1960
Engineering statistics, January 1964
H.A. Lott, Inc. photograph records documenting astrodome construction, May 1963-March 1965
Memo books, 1964, undated
Progress diaries, 1963-1964
Order books, 1963-1964
Lett, Johnson, Drake, and Piper Proposals for contract change, 1964-1965
Complete change orders, court approved, 1964-1966
Approved change orders, 1963
Requests for replacement of time by the contractor, 1963-1964
Foundation plans, 1963
Members not yet erected, undated
Retaining wall tie back, 1963
Temporary stadium, 1961-1962
94-274/9 Physical Plant
Operation of Mechanical Facilities, 1965
Prefilters: Installation, operation and maintenance instructions, 1965
Report on Analysis of refrigeration plant for proposed sports stadium, undated
Roof structure
Armstrong F/A roofing: architects and engineers’ specifications, undated
Astrodome roofing design, 1963-1964
Lydick roofing company, 1961
Proposal Kaiser Aluminum 12 HV Dome for Harris County Sports Stadium, December 1960
Report on a conference concerning dome structure design, 1961
Roof structures, 1960-1963
Roof structure report, 1961
Roof structure correspondence, 1962-1964
Shopcoat paint on dome, 1963
The Story of Roof Structures, Inc. 1930-1961
Contract documents, new roofing and appurtenant repairs, 1972
Correspondence concerning dome glare and lighting, 1966
Glass skylights, 1961-1965
Memorandum to Preston Shirley concerning skylights, October 1975
Plastic skylight documents, 1957-1962
Plastic skylights, 1961-1965
Plastics and fire, 1962
Skylight correspondence, 1961-1975
94-274/10 Skylight inspections, 1967-1978
Skylight information, 1964-1967
Skylight memorandum, 1975
Sunlight and skylights, 1960-1963
Sound System
Acoustics, 1960-1965
Architectural acoustical materials, 1963
Operating instructions sound amplification system, 1967
Printed material sound systems, undated
Sound amplification systems, 1963
Sound equipment, May 1963
Sound system correspondence, 1965
Taft Broadcasting company contractors, undated
Construction documents for seating, 1963
Seating, 1964
Concession stands
Food service equipment, undated
Ice machines, 1963
Agreement for graphics consultant, 1966
Correspondence, graphics file, 1965
Qualitative analysis of sign requirements, undated
Artificial grass, 1964
Grass contracts, 1961
Grass experience, A&M College, 1964
94-274/11 Grass research, 1960-1962
Landscape correspondence, 1963
Sodding, 1963-1964
Parking Lot
Brown and Root
Contracts, 1964-1965
Correspondence, 1965
Daily Time Report, 1964
Monthly estimate file, 1964-1965
Test report files, concrete, soil, 1964-1965
Correspondence concerning parking lots, 1962
Daily reports, stadium sub-drainage, 1962
Fencing, 1963
Lab reports, 1962
Parking lot surfacing, 1964
Proposal, contract documents and specifications for asphalt surfacing for Northeast Quadrant parking area, 1962
Proposal for drainage and paving, March 1964
Proposal for grading, drainage facilities and surfacing, 1961
Report of sub-surface soil exploration tests for Harris County Domed Stadium parking lot, undated
Specifications and bid for Harris County domed stadium parking lot surfacing, 1964
Specifications and bid for the Harris County domed stadium parking lot surfacing, undated
Specifications for earthwork and subdrainage for Harris County Sports Stadium, Houston, Texas, 1961
Sub-drainage, 1962
Sub-drainage, John Kraak Inc., 1962-1964
Trinity Construction Company surfacing northeast quadrant parking area, 1962
Fallout shelter
Fallout shelter, 1961
Fallout shelter project, revised estimate, February 1962
Proposed Houston-Harris County, Texas, fallout shelter project, 1962
Punch list
Check set, graphic at stadium, 1965
Punch list file, 1965
Recommendations for completion, 1966
94-274/12 Completed stadium
Astrodome summary, 1967
Domed stadium data, 1968
Facts and figures about the Harris County Sports Stadium, 1961-1962
Harris County Domed Stadium general information, undated
Post-construction correspondence, 1965-1972
Acoustical Evaluation, 1965
Cathodic Protection Survey, 1965
Corrosion study and recommendations, 1963
Evaluation of wind tunnel test, 1961
Evaluation of wind tunnel data, 1961
Investigation of surface burning characteristics, 1963
Daniel F. Smith Laboratories test results, 1964
Engineering testing laboratories, 1963-1964
Pittsburg Testing Lab, 1964-1965
Shilstone Testing Lab, 1969
Southwestern Laboratories reports, 1962-1963
Settlement studies, 1963
Soil borings and tests stadium relocation Houston, Texas, July 1961
94-274/13 Soil investigation, 1961
Soil test reports, 1962
Steel tests, 1963
Surveys, undated
Test results, 1963-1965
Testing correspondence, 1962-1965
Domed Stadium inspection report, January 1965
Hot mix alphaltic concrete inspection, 1965
Inspection receipts, 1964-1965
Inspection reports out, 1965
Inspector correspondence, 1963-1964
Structural steel field inspection, 1963-1964
Structural steel shop inspection, 1963-1965
Architects and engineers fees, 1959-1965
Associated architects financial correspondence, 1959-1961
Certificates of payments, general contractor, 1963-1965
Contractor cost estimate, 1961
Construction estimate, 1964
Cost estimates, 1962
Estimate, 1964
Estimate on stadium, 1958
Fees due, 1961-1963
Gasoline receipts, 1963-1964
Invoices, 1964-1965
Johnson, Drake and Piper Inc., estimate forms, undated
Miscellaneous expenses paid, 1965
94-274/14 Photocopies, blueprint receipts, 1961-1962
Preliminary cost estimate, 1960
Receipts, undated
Record of deposits made for plans and specifications, 1962
Remittance vouchers, 1965-1966
Stadium paid bills
A-Z, 1961-1965
Blueprints, 1965
Drafting time, 1965
Engineers, 1965
Grass Experiment, 1961
Travel, 1964
Affidavit, 1967
Agreements, 1962
Contracts and pricing sheets, 1964-1970
Contract changes, 1963, 1965
Contract documents, new roofing and appurtenant repairs, Harris County Domed Stadium, October 1972
Documents concerning proposed contract for roofing system of the Harris County Domed Stadium, 1973
General contracts, 1963-1964
Harris County Commissioners court statement, 1961
Subcontracts, 1973
Subcontracts for roofing system, July 1973
94-274/15 Harris County legal action, 1961-1966
Harris County, Texas vs. Lloyd and Morgan, et. al., 1961
Houston Sports Association
Agreement between the Houston Sports Association and Harris County, 1972
Contract and agreement between the Houston Sports Association Inc., and Tippetts-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton, May 1972
Houston Sports Association Inc., contract documents, 1973
Lease and agreement by and between Harris County and Houston Sports Association, Inc., May 1961
Legal document concerning the Houston Sports Association, 1966
Legal documents between Harris County and Houston Sports Association, 1966-1972
Legal cases
Commissioners’ court hearing on Harris County domed stadium, 1972
Hearing on the Harris County Domed Stadium, February 1972
Houston Sports Association vs. Harris County, 1959-1972
Supplemental material to county’s brief in support of motion for summary judgment, 1971
Houston Sports Association vs. Harris County Texas vs. Lloyd, Morgan, Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson hearing on abatement, undated
Houston Sports Association vs. Harris County Texas vs. Lloyd, Morgan, Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson depositions
Blair, Richard W., April 1974
Doss, Richard P., June 1971
Stipulations to be attached to the deposition of Richard P. Doss, June 1971
Dunne, William P., June 1974
Elliott, Judge William, September 1974
Eyster, Herbert M., November 1973
Farnsworth, Alan C., November 1973
94-274/16 Hofheinz, Fred, September 1972
Joiner, George, August 1974
Jones, Howard M., April 1974
Kwoh, Theodore H.T., September 1974
Miller, Edward D., Jr., June 1974
Miller, Viggo, September 1974
Minchew, Robert J., March 1974
Minner, Harold Y., March 1974
Exhibits to the deposition of Harold Y. Minner, 1967-1968
Morris, S.I., March 1974
Smith, Talbot M., September 1974
Tillinghast, Josh, August 1974
White, James W., June 1974
Wilson, Charles J., September 1974
Jones-Blair Company, Neogard Company correspondence, 1970-1975
94-274/17 Roof leakage
Correspondence concerning roof leakage, 1963-1975
Houston Sports Association vs. Harris County Gulf Waterproofing Company Inc., 1964-1968
Investigation of roof leakage, 1972-1973
Insurance, 1965
Leases, 1963
Legal documents, 1964-1971
94-274/18 Legal documents, 1972-1973
Legal items
Number 6-testing, 1963-1969
Number 7-fees, 1963-1965
Number 8-general requirements, 1961
Number 9-inspections, 1966-1970
Number 10-dome paint, 1965-1971
Number 31-soil, 1962-1963
Number 32-proposals, 1964
Number 37-construction progress, 1964-1966
Resolution, 1962
Stadium legislative bill, 1957
"Acousti-architectural Considerations in the Harris County Domed Stadium", 1965
"The Air-Conditioning of Great Spaces" draft, 1965
"Dynamic Houston: The Domed Stadium", undated
"Firsts for Astrodome", undated
"The Greening of the Astrodome: An Experience in Collaboration" by Charles Wilson, with drafts, undated
Brochures concerning the Astrodome, undated
Clippings, 1957-1965
Magazine clippings, 1958-1982
Newspaper clippings, 1951-1990
94-274/19 Newspaper clippings, undated
Inside the Astrodome: Eighth Wonder of the World, 1965
Architectural and Engineering News, January 1963
Architectural Forum, January 1957
Building Construction, November 1964
Business Week, October 5, 1963
Chemical Week, April 17, 1965
Civil Engineering, April 1958
The Dallas Times Herald Sunday Magazine, April 4, 1965
Dupont Magazine, March-April 1964
Engineering Digest, January 1964
Engineering New-Record, February 27, 1964
Enjay Rubber Reporter, undated
General Electric Review, September 1958
Great Southerner, April 1965
The Hot Air Recorder, January 1962
Houston Chronicle Texas Sunday Magazine, April 4, 1965
Lawyers Title News, November 1964
LIFE, April 9 and 23, 1965
LOOK, April 20, 1965
Lucite Spectrum, April 1964
Master Builders Reporter, no. 12, 1957
Materials Protection, November 1964
The Montreal Star Weekend Magazine, May 15, 1965
National Real Estate Investor, January 1965
Newsweek, August 17, 1964 and April 26, 1965
O Dirigente Constructor, April 1965
Rohm & Haas Reporter, May-June 1961
Red Topics, Issue 3, 1960
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Magazine, September 27, 1964
The Slide Rule, July 1961
This Week Magazine, May 1958
TIME, April 16, 1965
Paul Peters stadium movie proposal, 1964
Publicity files
News releases, 1965-1967
Press releases concerning Astrodome, 1966
Public release file, 1964-1965
Publicity files, 1964-1965
Architectural awards of excellence, 1965
Nomination for outstanding civil engineering achievement, 1965
Topping out ceremony, 1963-1964
Professional organizations
Houston Engineering and Scientific Society, 1959
Houston Sports Association
Acceptance, 1965
Correspondence, 1965
National League Baseball Club, 1962
National League Welcomes You Aboard, 1960
Society of the Plastics Industry - "Design and Mechanical-Electrical Characteristics of 500-ft-diameter Radome," November 2, 1960
Sportsdome Association speech, undated
Structural Cement-Fiber Products Association: uniforms standards and specifications, 1974
Texas Society of Professional Engineers
A Guidebook on Engineering Fees and Salaries, 1952
Manual of Professional Practice, 1958
Travel documents to conventions, 1963-1965
94-274/20 Other construction project files
American Cancer Society, 1974
American Heart Association, undated
City of Longview, Texas, Police and Courts building, 1976
City jail
General information
Preliminary details
Prison hardware and equipment supplies
Product information
Federal Reserve Bank of Houston, 1974
Hallmark II, 1977-1978
Addendum file
Application and certificate for payment
Architects field report
Ballpark price request
Board meeting minutes
Completion and punch lists
Change order
Contract file
Design revision
Exemption certificate
Field orders
94-274/21 General correspondence
Job meeting reports
Owner furnished equipment
Property information
Requests for extra money
SPAW-Glass Incorporated
State licensing correspondence
Testing reports
Houston Livestock Rodeo Exhibition
Architectural proposals and plans, undated
Report and construction data, 1967
Specifications for exterior elevation, 1968
Kronzer townhouse, 1974
Leonard Rosenberg Residence, 1974
Medical Clinic of Houston, 1974
Olmsted-Kirk Co. of Houston, 1974
Ralph Anderson townhouse, 1974
Rice University, 1974
U.S. Border Station, Laredo, 1974
Vanderbilt University, 1974
Western National Bank roof, 1974


At Sid Richardson Hall:

2.325/OD5 Astrodome
Oversized posters, architectural drawings and blueprints, 1963
Daylight analysis of the Houston Domed Stadium, 1965
Ring girder erection procedure, 1963
Roof structure, 1963
Schedule for off-site projects, 1961
2.325/OD7 Oversized architectural plans, drawings and mockups, 1963
Operation schedules of Harris County Domed Stadium, 1965
2.325/OD8 Oversized blueprint drawings, 1961-1972
Repairs to main roof, 1972
3So83 Bound volume, blueprints for Harris County stadium, [ca. 1961]
Architectural drawings and plans of the Harris County sports stadium, 1962-1965
Annotated calendar, 1964
3W199 Astrodome, silent print, reel-to-reel film, undated
Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, A.I.A., “Some Recent Jobs”, reel-to-reel film, undated
Big 2 News, KPRC-TV, Houston, reel-to-reel film, undated
2FilmC6 "The Astrodome", 16mm color positive release print, undated
2X74d DVDs:
"Wilson, Morris, Crain, and Anderson, A.I.A., 'Some Recent Jobs,'" reel-to-reel, undated
"Big 2 News KPRC-TV, Houston, Dome Change Over," reel-to-reel, undated
"Astrodome," silent print, reel-to-reel, undated
"The Astrodome," 16 mm color positive release print
3V257 Harris County domed stadium photographs, contact sheets:
Contact sheets
Harris County domed stadium photographs
Soil test reports, 1962
Photographs from domed stadium under construction (disassembled album)
Construction progress photographs, 1962-1965
2.325/OD5 Other construction projects
Blueprints for Harris county courthouse and jail building, 1950-1956
Birdseye view of the Honolulu municipal stadium site, September 6, 1967
2.325/OD8 Oversized blueprint drawings
Houston Livestock Show and Exposition Building, [1967?]
Building layout for old City of Houston police station/penthouse on courthouse annex number 12, undated
Colt stadium, 1961
Seating plan proposal for buff stadium, 1961
3V257 Photographs of other stadiums, undated