Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tom Swift and his geodesic dome

It's nearly impossible to get a good full shot of it due to the surrounding trees, but this is the first geodesic dome building ever constructed by Buckminster Fuller. Despite a bit of sagging and superficial damage, the structure, sixty feet in diameter, is in remarkably good shape 55 years later.

For a very long time it was a restaurant, a good one. Disappointingly, they put a roof inside to cover the interior of the dome...but while it would have been spectacular to see, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to manage such practical matters as acoustics and air conditioning if they'd left the entirety of the dome interior exposed. The restaurant closed not too long ago; the interior view shows the place in its present abandoned state.

The Dome is currently being investigated by the state historical commission and may qualify for listing in the National Register of Historic Places...but the property on which it rests has been targeted by a developer seeking to build condominiums on the land. This is a major story for the local newspaper (only published twice a week and 80% of each issue seems to consist of obituary listings) and may end up playing a role in a statewide grassroots effort to repeal an outdated state law which grants developers the right to bypass local zoning laws more or less at will.

I'd like to see the Dome preserved and revived. Perhaps used as a restaurant again, or perhaps some other use that would make it accessible to the public rather than making it the private property of the owners of expensive condos. I don't believe in ghosts, but if I did, I'd think that place would be full of them. Not only ghosts from the past, but also from the imaginary techno-utopian luxe future where posh restaurants are built in geodesic domes and robot valets accept the keys to your Dymaxion car before you board the Pan-Am space clipper for a jaunt to the orbital Hilton.


  1. So that's where you are! (I haven't been commenting, but have been following these post-hiatus postings.)

    I'll try to follow the future of this place - it would be a shame to allow Fuller's vision's just to fade away.

    And because you are as likely to have read it as anyone I can think of: are you familiar with a seventies paperback mystery that essentially had Fuller as the evil mastermind? Odd fun.

  2. I'd have read that novel in a second if I'd ever heard of it before now! Can you tell us more?

    And just to clarify: I'm back in New York City now. Posting these pictures after the fact is at least partly an effort to preserve the feeling of being on vacation, and maintain the clear and unhurried state of mind I always have when I'm there and not here. Also, I perversely enjoy the prospect of being that old bore who forces other people to look at his endless holiday snaps...


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