Styles & Forms: 1860 - 1990
- Late Victorian: 1860–1900
- Late 19th & Early 20th Century American Movement: 1900–1940
- Late 19th & 20th Century Period Revivals: 1920–1960
- Modern Movement: 1930–1970
Originally invented in Germany in 1922, Geodesic Domes did not see widespread use until the mid 1970s when prefabricated kits enticed a generation of do-it-yourselfers. Companies such as Cathedralite Domes, Dome Works and Oregon Domes, provided many of the kits for structures here in the Pacific Northwest. Geodesic Domes are often identified with the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, and became popularized after inventor, architect, engineer, and mathematician R. Buckminster Fuller, lectured world-wide on the potential use and efficiency of the structure. Fuller had received an American patent for the design in 1954 and came to Seattle several times to lecture on the subject. Widely published pattern books such as Domebook I (1969) and Domebook II (1971), as well as hands-on workshops, allowed amateur builders to construct Geodesic Domes at their own leisure. Such activities led the dome to become identified with alternative lifestyles.
Here in the PNW Geodesic Domes arrived in the 1970s. King County approved the first geodesic dome through their building department in 1973 (Bondelid House, Bothell), while the first commercial-office geodesic dome was built in Pierce County in 1978. The Pierce County dome, located near the Tacoma Mall, is 45ft in diameter and originally housed an authorized dealership for Cathedralite Domes.
The basic spherical shape of a Geodesic Dome is derived from a complex engineering system of triangular frames, often called “space frames”. The frames are made by joining triangular-shaped panels in such a way as to form a dome-shaped building in which all planes or facets, are straight, flat surfaces. The frames, usually made of wood or tubular metal, create a self-reinforcing roof and siding unit all in one structure. This eliminates the need for any internal supports or “load-bearing” walls. The Tacoma Dome, at 530’ in diameter, is the largest public Geodesic Dome in the world.
Geodesic Dome frames can be clad in a variety of materials from asphalt to cedar shingles on smaller buildings, to metal or plastic sheets on large exhibit or recreational facilities. Skylights were often installed, and can be found on any surface as long as they are within the basic triangular frame. Dormers, copulas, and flat-roofed, or Gambrel-roofed wings can be also found.
Geodesic Domes have been used for just about every building type from playground equipment to military radar stations, to civic and recreation buildings, exhibition attractions, and single family homes. While thousands have been built and are still being manufactured today, the use of Geodesic Domes achieved only limited popularity. Most were built in isolation as single structures.
Clarkston, c. 1975
|Deitrich Activity Center|
Walla Walla, 1978
Milton, c. 1975
Thurtson County, c. 1980
Port Townsend, c. 1975
Moses Lake, c. 1980