CARBONDALE, Ill.--When you see a geodesic dome, you know exactly what it is. You don't have to wonder if it's Georgian, Victorian, or neomodern. It's a dome. All those geodesic dome homes trace their lineage back to a quiet corner of Forest and Cherry in Carbondale, Ill.
R. Buckminster Fuller was the mind behind the dome home. He built what's known locally as the "Bucky Dome" just over 50 years ago, out of panels of plywood. He meant for it to be cheap and easy to put together. The original assembly took just seven hours. Since the 1960s, domes have reproduced and spread out around the country in a wide migration of Fuller's ideas. It's no wonder many people think of him as the grandfather of the sustainability movement.
An effort to restore the dome has been given new life with the recent award of a Save America's Treasures matching grant to the tune of $125,000. "He envisioned the dome as a house. It was the first dome home. It's the only one he ever lived in," says Janet Donoghue, development director of the nonprofit RBF Dome NFP, which is looking to resuscitate the worn structure.
The group has its work cut out for it. "When it was built, he said the material he needed to make it waterproof wasn't invented yet," says Donoghue. The Bucky Dome is in rough shape. Sad brown shingles cling helplessly to the outside, mold has taken hold on the inside, and many of the plywood triangles are water-damaged.
A much more modern geodesic dome in the form of metal piping and tarps covers the entire outside in an attempt to protect Bucky's former residence.… Read more