The USS Texas – a New York Class Battleship launched in 1912 – served with distinction in World War II and was the platform for numerous military firsts. In 1948 it was designated a National Historic Landmark, and was permanently anchored on the Houston Ship Channel. It was the first battleship memorial museum in the United States. It is the oldest dreadnought battleship, and one of six remaining ships to have served in both World Wars. The constant exposure to the active water of the channel has deteriorated the hull of the Battleship.
The design team worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel to develop a master plan for dry-docking the USS Texas – preserving an historic accuracy of its presentation, and enhancing its attractiveness to visitors.
The plan calls for development of a raised zero-edge water basin that will give the effect of the battleship sitting in the water, without incurring any further hull damage. The strategy is to excavate a basin, using the earth to create surrounding berms. The Battleship is floated into the basin, and the water level raised to bring the Battleship above the surrounding grades. The Battleship is then re-positioned into new "cradles." Finally, the basin is drained, leaving the Battleship safely dry-docked. The final orientation of the Battleship is perpendicular to, and thereby referencing, the San Jacinto Monument and Visitors Center, commemorating the decisive battle of the Texas revolution.
An elevated structure at the ship’s waterline holds a shallow depth reflecting pool, creating a simulated ocean. A portion of the that structure is skylight, bringing daylight into lower level viewing areas at the ship’s hull. Upper level viewing stations along the edge of the basin provide interactive presentations of major events in the ship’s history. On the opposite side of the ship, a visitor center and entertainment venue is proposed. Visitors park in a multilevel parking structure, and enter a windowless reception "egg."
The visitors are transported vertically, and "in time" to a shipyard environment of 1945. The total build-out includes display areas in "time period" buildings, simulation rides, theme restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as offices and maintenance facilities for the administration of this Texas historical site.
A variation to the concept proposed a physical and operational partnership with a local community college to provide an interpretive center for the San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship USS Texas. Final resolution of the site configuration was not reached at time of project termination.