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Buckminster dome home preservation begins phase 2

By Muriel Berry

After many years of sitting dormant under a tarp, the Buckminster Fuller Dome Home’s exterior has been restored, and owners will continue with the next phase of restoration.

Preservation began in April and its second phase commenced Tuesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of its exterior renovations.

Jon Davey, a professor in architecture and president of the Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewrett Dome Home Not-for-Profit Organization, said the dome, which mirrors the composition of a carbon molecule, is one of the only world-renowned monuments in Carbondale.

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Fuller, a former research professor at the university, and his wife lived in the dome for more than a decade. Mike Mitchell then purchased the property in 1971 and rented it to students. Davey donated the home to the Fuller Dome NFPO in 2002.

Blair Wolfram, general contractor and dome specialist said the home will be used as an historical center that promotes Fuller’s ‘principles of success’ and host exhibitions for artists’ work.

He said restoration efforts of the dome include the addition of ventilation, and restoration of heat reflectors in the walls, which will help maintain livable temperatures in the home.

Wolfrum also said other improvements have been discussed, but they have to be compliant with the regulations of the Fuller Dome NFPO.

Bill Perk, an investor in the dome home preservation, said he was excited to move on to the next phase of the project.

“Phase 1: the fixing up of the outer shell of the dome is finally complete,” he said. “We have to raise another $125,000 to $150,000 to return the interior to how it’s supposed to be.”

The organization members hope to have the home fully restored by 2015, but Perk said funds are the biggest obstacle to completing the project.

“It’s not a matter of years or manpower, but money, that is a main concern for interior renovations.”

Apart from creating the dome home, Fuller earned 28 honorary doctorate degrees and was the first professor to make on the cover of Time Magazine.

Davey said Fuller was a brilliant man and the dome is more than a historical monument.

“It is a memorial and it recognizes who Bucky was and the sort of thinking he evolved,” Davey said.

One of the reasons the dome home was innovative was because it used less material than standard square houses, but could also withstand the same elements, said Wolfram.

He said the design of the dome home was revolutionary.

“Bucky was well ahead of his own time,” he said. “Spherical homes require less material, have more volume and are more consumer friendly. Only being 45 years old in the scope of housing, this is brand new.”

Jordan Duncan contributed to this report.

Muriel Berry can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Muriel_Berry_DE.

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The student news site of Southern Illinois University