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First and most famous geodesic domes
When were the first geo domes built? What did they look like? Why have geodesic domes become so popular? What are the most famous geodesic structures?
For most people, geodesic domes are new and not fully explored. But in fact, they have a long history of almost a century. In this article we will try to briefly tell you about the first and most famous geo domes, what they looked like and how they changed over time.

Small and Big "Jena's Miracle"

The first dome, similar to a geodesic one, was designed after World War I for a planetarium by the chief engineer of the Carl Zeiss optical company, Walter Bauersfeld. However, the first patented dome was considered to be a small dome built by Dykerhoff and Wydmann on the roof of the Zeiss factory in Jena, Germany. Later (in July 1926), the first large dome was erected on the same roof - " Jena's Miracle " (photo below).
Fuller's first geodesic domes

20 years later, Richard Buckminster Fuller received a patent for the development of a geodesic dome (it was him, who gave the name "geodesic"). He is considered as a popularizer of geo domes in the USA. We talked about his projects HERE.

Buckmeister Fuller's first geodesic dome had 18m in diameter and was built in 1952 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts for a local restaurant. This dome had many disadvantages: not durable outer covering (lack of rain protection), poor sound insulation, etc.

A year later, Fuller commissioned Henri Ford to build another dome for Ford Motors headquarters in Detroit, Illinois. This dome had amazing dimensions (diameter 25 m and weight 8.5 tons), which attracted the press, emphasizing the potential of a new design for those times. Since then, geo domes have been used for specialized purposes: Early Warning Remote Channel (Canada, 1956), aluminum Kaiser domes (erected all over the USA), weather stations, warehouses etc.

Union Tank Car Company dome

We wanted to particularly note the Union Tank Car Company dome, which was built by Richard Fuller in 1958 near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Its diameter was 117 m. At that time, this geo dome was the largest open span structure in the world.

The dome was very popular, but after switching to another company, it was demolished in 2007. In 2010, a documentary about it was made, called "A Necessary Ruin", which describes the history of the building.
Montreal's biosphere

The next and most famous Fuller’s building was the United States Pavilion at the 1967 Montreal World's Fair, Expo '67.

The outer covering of the dome was later burnt, although the structure itself retained its shape and now serves as an environmental museum under the name "Biosphère". This building is one of the main symbols of the city of Montreal.
Dome at the South Pole

Due to the excellent stability and resistance to snow and wind loads, such a structure was built at the South Pole in 1975.

Spaceship Earth

On October 1, 1982, one of the world's most famous geodesic domes was opened at the EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World (Bay Lake, Florida). The building and entertainment activities inside were named "Spaceship Earth", after the famous phrase by Buckminster Fuller.
The world's first "dome" hotel

Finally, in 2000, the world's first “dome” hotel was built - EcoCamp Patagonia (Patagonia, Chile). Geodesic domes were selected for the project due to their high resistance to the wind loads, characteristic to this region.

Hotel was opened in 2001 and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2021.