20TH CENTURY

GEODESIC DOMES (1965 1980)

Although domes had existed for some time, Buckminster Fuller popularized them through lectures demonstrating the effectiveness and resourcefulness of the building style. In 1954, Fuller patented the dome. Many domes were sold in kits and assembled by the property owners. Most domes could be assembled in a couple of days by constructing the wall units, attaching them together and finishing the interior spaces. The triangular shaped panels meant load bearing walls were not necessary in the construction of this style. Most domes average 30 feet in diameter. In Alaska most geodesic domes are residential.

Primary Stylistic Features
  • Dome shape.
  • Clad in wood shingles or three tab asphalt shingles.
  • Windows and skylights found in a variety of shapes (triangular, square, rectangular or round).
  • Space frames.
Secondary Stylistic Features
  • Flat roofed wings.
  • Copulas.
  • Segmented dormers.
  • Wood porches.
  • Clad in wood, stone veneer, plastic or T1-11.

Evaluation Considerations

Due to the do-it-yourself nature of residential Geodesic Domes, they are often found in isolation.  Domes may be contributing features in a mixed style district.  To be eligible in a district the shape must be intact with one other primary stylistic feature.  Additions that overwhelm the dome will result in the building being not eligible.  Domes were used in a variety of building types including uses for recreation, military, residential, or civic.  When domes exhibit a majority of the primary characteristics and at least two secondary features, they may be considered eligible at the local level.  The dome shape must always be evident.


For Further Information

Zung, Thomas T.K., Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for a New Millennium. New York: Macmillian, 2002.