64- Derelict Dome | WBEZ
Skip to main content

99% Invisible

64- Derelict Dome

In the Cape Cod town of Woods Hole, buildings are not usually dome-shaped. Producer Katie Klocksin was pretty surprised when she came across one. Katie started asking around about the dome.  She found it was built by the late Buckminster Fuller, who called himself a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," out to solve the problems confronting "Starship Earth" by changing the way we make buildings.  "Bucky" Fuller invented and patented the geodesic dome, a spherical structure made from small triangles.  The design is based on a lot of complicated math, but the idea is that by relying on the strength of of the triangle, these buildings could be made from cheaper materials, like plastic and aluminum instead of steel and concrete. In 1953, Fuller was commissioned to build a dome in Woods Hole by architect (and aspiring restauranteur) Gunnar Peterson.  The dome would become the posh Dome Restaurant.  Diners could gaze through the building's triangular windows out on onto the sea.  A zither player named Ruth Welcome entertained guests. Despite its Utopian aspirations, the building had some structural problems.  The glass windows heated the restaurant up like a greenhouse, so the owner installed fiberglass over most of the dome, blocking the ocean views.  It leaked constantly, and was difficult to maintain.  Even though the Woods Hole dome did not radically change the world, Bucky Fuller would go on to become one of the most influential thinkers in design and architecture of the 20th Century. Today, the Dome Restaurant lies vacant. A new development project could lead to the dome's restoration, but for now, it remains a decaying curiosity, inviting exploration from microphone-wielding out-of-towners.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.

CLOSE X