The first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s seventh and final season called for a large Cardassian shipyard, which would appear just twice on the show in total.
John Eaves, who was working as a production illustrator on Deep Space Nine, devised a vast installation reminiscent of the show’s main space station itself, before a less ambitious but sprawling design was chosen.
The first drafts for what would become known as the “Monac Shipyards” — named after special effects supervisor Gary Monak — came from Greg Jein, who was filling in for Eaves when Deep Space Nine was on hiatus during the summer of 1998.
“He was thrown into a concept nightmare with this Cardassian shipyard that was going through some pretty rough approval sessions,” Eaves wrote at his blog in 2009.
“Greg’s pieces were brilliant,” he added, “with sweeping platforms and docks full of ships under construction. All were getting the boot, but in the long run a kluge of his work came to be the final design.”
Eaves went for something different, “a spinoff from DS9 architecture stylized to be a huge shipyard.” The idea was probably too big for the episode, “Image in the Sand,” which was scheduled to air on September 30, 1998. It was quickly rejected, “but made for a fun marker sketch,” said Eaves.
The computer model of the final shipyard, which was destroyed in the episode “Shadows and Symbols,” would turn up again in “Tacking Into the Wind,” when it appeared as a Kelvas repair facility without its docking arms, and in the season finale “What You Leave Behind,” where it was spotted orbitting Cardassia, again with the docking arms.
The design even made it into another series. In Star Trek: Enterprise‘s “Bounty,” it made its final appearance as a Tellarite space station. It has three docking arms there but lacked the more detailed features that were originally put into the design.