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GEODESIC DOMES (& TANKS!) FOR HUMANS – EFFICIENT OR FARCE?
Submitted by Jeff Buster on Mon, 11/10/2008 - 16:32.
8.6.12 Above is a very recent image of a Horton Sphere taken from the Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York. Named after the principal behind Chicago Bridge and Iron, these vessels were constructed beginning in 1923. I have contacted the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation in an effort to preserve this beautiful and unique "form following function" structure which is in immediate risk of being demolished - the natural gas pumping station in the brick building on this site is being demolished as I type. the tank is located at the corner of Dutchess and North Water Streets in Poughkeepsie, New York and is owned by Central Hudson Gas and Electric.
With regard to geodesic domes - which could be constructed with similar segments - the jig saw pattern of steel plates assembled into this sphere is unique. The lay-out pattern is repeated 4 times around the vertical axis of the tank.
With the rivets detailing the seams, the sphere is extremely cool and organic feeling.
The “stars must be aligning” to encourage me to post my considerations regarding geodesic domes.
Last week I stopped to photograph the dome over the American Society of Materials headquarters in Geauga County (photo below), and
two days ago I visited a dome home (at top of this post) in New Hampshire, and today in the local library I noticed an aerial shot of Buckminister Fuller and the ASM dome on the cover of the November, 2008 edition of ARTFORM magazine .
Geodesic domes occupy a weird niche in architecture. Sean Keller, in the ARTFORUM piece which discusses Fuller and the geodesic dome, writes: “
The domes rest almost entirely outside of architectural history, neither referencing past forms nor, because of their strict geometry, accommodating further formal development.”
The dome at the ASM near Cleveland is the largest geodesic structure in the world and provides ambiance over the American Society of Materials headquarters at 9639 Kinsman Rd, Russell Township. Besides providing ambiance over the ASM office building, the dome’s aluminum frame also provides lightening protection. That’s what is weird about domes – though they are an extremely efficient way to provide structural cover, and despite the fact that they do not require any internal supports (i.e. columns) the spherical design has proved difficult to adapt to widespread human use.
Perhaps new generations of “fabric like” stretchable covererings will breath new life into the usefulness of geodesic domes, allowing them to avoid having to fit rigid, leak prone, glazing and paneling, into the many different shapes of the dome.
The chrome dome salt shed above (in Massey, Ontario) uses four sided panels - each horizontal row having the same size panel. This design would appear to have commercial advantages over 6 sided panels.
When you look at the exoskeleton on the marine animal (what species is it?) below, it would appear that Mother Nature (evolution) had the Jump on Mr. Fuller.
Besides these photos, I have had the following personal experiences with domes –
Monterey Domes was a company in California operated by Robert Gunther which manufactured dome kits using redwood. Monterey Domes donated a beautiful lathe house for tropical plants to the UC Riverside Botanical Gardens in memory of Mr. Gunther’s parents. With no glazing to worry about leaking, and with plants inside the dome (instead of rectilinear objects) the dome shape for a lathe house is an excellent use both functionally and aesthecitally.
Metcut Inc.(out of business in the ‘90’s) was a metal cutting contractor from Watertown, Massachusetts who got the huge job to cut the tubing for the Montreal Dome.
Visiting Montreal – Empty after a fire burned off its acrylic skin in 1976, the Dome remained vacant until 1990 when it was re-inhabited by the Montreal Biosphere museum. The 14 years of vacancy says something about the usefulness of domes…
The image below shows (April 09) the lightening rods, and aerial wires connecting the rods, over the top of the acrylic plastic covered dome at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Ohio. Maybe this involved lightening protection system was installed with the fire at the Montrealo Biosphere in mind.
June 2011 view of Fuller dome from moving vehicle on bridge over St. Lawrence
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