Nonprofit writing grants, selling merchandize to restore Bucky Dome


The Fuller Dome home, also known as the “Bucky Dome,” is pictured on Forest Avenue Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Carbondale. (Auston Mahan | @AustonMahanDE)

By Isabelle Rogers

A nonprofit organization has its sights set on restoring a prominent Carbondale landmark: the Fuller Dome Home on Forest Avenue, also known as the Bucky Dome.

In 1960, research professor Buckminster Fuller built the geodesic structure and lived there with his wife Anne until 1971.

According to the dome website, it is “one of the strongest and most efficient structures known to humankind.” Fuller patented the design in 1954, and it is his “most enduring legacy,” the website says.


Now, the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome nonprofit organization wants to keep that legacy alive by restoring the dome’s exterior and rebuilding its landscape, said Jon Davey, the organization’s president.

“Because it’s a preservation project, you can’t go replace things with a brand-new window or door,” Davey said. “You have to use what is existing there, so that takes a little bit more time, more energy and more money.”

Davey said they expect the restorations to cost anywhere between $150,000 and $200,000. The group is currently writing grants and selling jewelry, tee shirts and anthologies of Fuller’s 25 published books inside the dome home.

Once the money is raised and the dome home is fully restored, they plan to bring in a docent master guide that will give the tours and presentations, Davey said.

Though there is no docent currently on the property, anyone interested in tours can visit the Fuller Dome Home website to contact Davey to set up a time to view the home, he said.

The main goal for the restoration is to keep Fuller’s spirit and legacy alive in the community, Davey said.

Davey said Fuller’s dome home patent is considered one of the most sustainable, affordable and safe home designs to date.

“[The restoration project] is important because of who Bucky was,” Davey said. “Some people refer to him as the father of sustainability. His thinking was so unique about our relationship with the earth and with each other. We want to continue that kind of thinking on.”

At one point, Bucky domes were scattered across campus, Davey said. There were four domes across from the Communications Building, one on Campus Lake and one across from Quigley Hall, he said.

Now, the only domes in Carbondale are the half dome named Bucky’s Haven by Campus Lake and the dome home on Forest Avenue.

Fuller taught at SIU from 1959 to 1972, according to dome’s website, and during his employment at SIU he received 25 honorary PHDs, finished writing 25 books and completed 26 patents. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was awarded to him by President Ronald Reagan.


The most famous of Fuller’s patents was for his dome, Davey said, adding that Fuller’s design is now well-known and used around the world.

When Fuller left Carbondale in 1972, he sold the dome home and it was used as private student housing, Davey said. The property fell into a state of disarray until 12 years ago when the nonprofit acquired it. The group has since been restoring the home.

Though Fuller died in 1983, his designs and name recognition have endured, Davey said.

“I’ve had the opportunity many times to go overseas to India, Indonesia, Thailand and Egypt,” Davey said. “When I stand up and I say I’m from Southern Illinois University, the first thing people say is, ‘We know R. Buckminster Fuller.’ We are known internationally because of Fuller.”

Davey said the geodesic home design is sturdy during seismic activity and storms. It is also very quick to build, as it can be made of pretty much any material, he said.

The dome design is also the most energy efficient home design because it uses one-third of the materials than a similarly sized house and transfers less heat to its surroundings, Davey said.

“It’s a unique space to be in,” Davey said. “The best thing to do is just experience it, because it’s like nothing else you’ve ever been to.”

Staff writer Isabelle Rogers can be reached at or on Twitter @isabellarogers. 

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