There Is Nothing New Under the Sun: Geodesic Domes of Yore

The term 'geodesic' was coined by the legendary Robert Buckminister Fuller in 1946. You know what they say, just because there was no name for it does not that it never existed. Indeed the very first geodesic domes existed two decades before that. The man behind it was none other than Wilhem Johannes Bauserfeld.

The House of A Planetarium Projector

With all their modern day grandeur, it is humbling to note that the first geodesic dome ever made by man was designed simply to house a planetarium projector some ninety two years ago. Wilhem Johannes Bauserfeld was able to use the icosahedron that is inscribed in a hypothetical sphere to deliver a spherical structure that spanned 26 metres. This grandiose structure was open to the public in 1926.

The 21 Canadian Distant Early Warning Line Domes

Most inventions of man in the twentieth century were as a result of or as a consequence of war. Geodesic domes that had already been patented in 1954 were neither. However, it was not long before they got sucked into matters of war. In 1956, 21 Distant Early Warning Line Domes were erected in Canada to aid in detecting incoming Soviet bombs.

The 1958 Union Tank Car Company Dome

To be the largest clear span of your time is no mean feat. At the time of its construction, the 1958 Union Tank Company Dome achieved that feather in its cap. The man behind it was Thomas Howard, a designer inspired by Robert Buckminister Fuller. It is often a sad thing for jewels of the world to go down. This magnificent dome was sadly demolished by neglect.

The Pavilion At The 1964 World's Fair In New York City

More than 51 million people from across the world were given the treat of witnessing a geodesic dome for the first time. Designed by Thomas Howard, the pavilion captured the imagination of many people. It is pleasing to note that it is still in use as an aviary.

The Biosphere

The brains behind the 1967 Biosphere was none other than Robert Buckminister Fuller, or simply 'Bucky'. He is certainly the man who helped bring geodesic domes into the limelight as he developed comprehensive mathematics behind them. The Biosphere is extremely resilient as it survived a huge fire back in 1976.

The Tacoma Dome

You have probably heard of The Tacoma Dome; a true architectural jewel that was opened to the general public in 1983. The architects behind it- McGranahan and Messenger certainly could not have imagined that it would still be the largest arena with a dome made of wood. It boasts of a diameter of 530 feet and is 152 feet high.

Other domes of yore include The Mitchell Park Domes that inspired the more recent Eden Project, The Biosphere 2 in Arizona and the Spaceship Earth at Epicot, Walt Disney. It is therefore fitting to recognize these timeless jewels even as we get mesmerized by more and more daring geodesic domes in the contemporary world such as the Fukuoka Dome and the Nagoya Dome.


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