An in-progress shot of the construction of the dome's outer shell.
Ben Gelman An in-progress shot of the construction of the dome's outer shell.

Although R. Buckminster Fuller didn’t invent the geodesic dome—that honor belongs to Walther Bauersfeld, a German engineer who received a European patent for the concept in 1922—Fuller was unquestionably its most vocal and best-known champion. And in 1960, while teaching at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Fuller put his money where his mouth was by building a geodesic dome home of his own, where he and his wife, Ann Hewlett Fuller, would live until 1971.

But the famously pragmatic Fuller chose not to design a one-of-a-kind structure for his own dwelling. Instead—as surprising as this may sound today—he was able to purchase a stock plywood dome from a Hamilton, Ohio, company called Pease Homes and have a local contractor assemble it on Fuller’s own slab foundation.

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