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Happy birthday, dome home

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 18, 2010 - Monday, April 19 officially begins “R. Buckminster and Anne Hewlett Fuller Dome Home Week” in Carbondale, Ill.

Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

But the celebration of the remarkable structure, the man who built it and the events happening all week to promote his ideals are a bit easier to process.

“Bucky was the father of the green and sustainability movement. He was talking about these issues 60, 70 years ago,” says Brent Ritzel, president of RBF Dome NFB, the nonprofit that raises funding and awareness for Fuller’s philosophies, and co-chair of the Fuller Dome Transformation Initiative.

Events throughout the week include panels, presentations, a music festival, documentaries and film showings, poetry readings, plus competitions in design and architecture that are open to the community. Among the guests present will be Allegra Fuller Snyder, the Fullers’ daughter, plus a design scientist and a former architectural partner of Fuller’s.  According to Ritzel, the week isn’t just a celebration of Fuller’s accomplishments, but also of the ideals behind those accomplishments.

Fuller, who was born in 1895, built the geodesic dome home in Carbondale in 1960. Using Fuller’s principles for a geodesic dome, the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden opened that same year and was the first greenhouse in the form of a geodesic dome. Fuller went on to build a dome for the Montreal World Expo in 1967 and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1969. He worked as a professor at SIU-Carbondale from 1959 to 1971. He also designed the Dymaxion, considered the world’s first green car.

To date, there are more than 500,000 geodesic domes around the world, Ritzel says.

The dome home in Carbondale was sold and rented out for many years, and finally was bought by a Fuller friend in 1999 to try and preserve and protect the structure.

Since 2002, RBF Dome NFB has worked to preserve the dome and create a museum inside. In 2004, the dome was named one of “The Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties in Illinois,” by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. Ritzel says funds raised will help renovate the dome and prepare for filling an application to be a National Historic Landmark.

With Fuller’s concept of “synergetic geometry,” he believed people could live more sustainably, and the week’s events work toward that goal with sessions on sustainable wellness, dome living and an interfaith roundtable.

In his lifetime, Fuller believed people had enough abundance to go around, and all week people in the town where he built his dome home will continue that conversation, looking for ways to make Fuller’s ideals real.

Tickets for the entire week cost $75, but individual tickets are also available.

For more information, go to www.buckysdome.org .