The Dome In Woods Gap; Buckminster Fuller's Aging Futuristic Building – Cape Cod Wave

WOODS HOLE – It's as if the geodesic spaceship that landed in Woods Gap in 1953 has been deserted, and now nobody is aware of fairly what to do with it.

The Dome, inbuilt 1953 by the late visionary Buckminster Fuller, stays an incongruous piece of look-at-me futuristic structure on this quaint New England village. Now there's a abandoned, ’Planet Of The Apes’ overgrown really feel to the constructing.

The future has gotten outdated. It has not been used for greater than a decade.

The Dome, inbuilt 1953 by the late visionary Buckminster Fuller, stays an incongruous piece of look-at-me futuristic structure on this quaint New England village. Now there's a abandoned, ’Planet Of The Apes’ overgrown really feel to the constructing.

The Dome is taken into account by some to be an architectural treasure. Due to regulatory stipulations, it may’t be torn down. And due to that, a neighborhood group is hoping to discover a approach to work with the proprietor to get it renovated after which repurposed as an arts middle.

There's a sale is pending on the 5-/2 acre property that features different constructions that do not need to be saved – a restaurant enlargement to the Dome constructing, and the Nautilus Motel, constructed within the 1950s.

Jim Fox, an actual property dealer with Kinlin Grover informed Cape Cod Wave, in an e-mail that the Dome property is “beneath settlement. I symbolize each purchaser and vendor. No different remark presently,” wrote Fox.

It's unclear what's deliberate for the property. However the Dome itself will apparently keep ceaselessly.

The Dome, Woods Hole

Contained in the spaceship that landed in Woods Gap in 1953.

“It’s an albatross on the property,” stated Nicole Goldman of the Dome itself. As a result of the Dome should stay, she stated it's one thing of a hinderance to any future improvement of this prime piece of Woods Gap actual property.

Goldman lives close to the Dome and is the undertaking supervisor for a casual group hoping to revive and adaptively reuse the Dome as an interdisciplinary arts middle.

Her common thought/hope, for the reason that uncommon constructing can't be taken down, is to have a non-revenue group use a few one-acre portion of the property for the humanities middle, whereas the developer would create a plan to construct on the remainder. “The complete undertaking is in limbo till possession of the property is sorted out,” she stated.

Goldman is hoping the constructing might be repurposed for a public use. “It’s a really uncommon construction with immense historic and architectural significance,” stated Goldman.

It’s additionally in horrible form.

Inside the Dome, water damage

Contained in the Dome, water harm

Whereas the lengthy-closed Dome constructing nonetheless seems to be futuristic, it additionally reveals the decay of a constructing whose time has lengthy handed. A sprinkler malfunction has broken the within. The rubber paint used to seal leaks on the surface is cracking and pale.

Simply previous to the recession of 2008, there was a plan to develop the property as 55+ housing. After which the crash occurred and the event was by no means constructed.

The Cape Cod Fee had accredited that plan with the stipulation that the Dome, as a novel piece of historic structure, have to be preserved.

The irony of nostalgically preserving the futurist’s decaying undertaking will not be misplaced on any of the three folks Cape Cod Wave contacted who met Fuller.


“Bucky and his spouse got here and lived at our home in Quissett for the summer time of ’53 whereas they constructed The Dome, and he personally supervised the constructing of The Dome,” recalled Joel Peterson, whose father, architect E. Gunnar Peterson, employed Buckminster Fuller to construct a brand new restaurant as a geodesic dome. On the time, Peterson was 12 years outdated.

“As a child, I knew him,” stated Peterson. “He was grandfatherly on the time. He spent a whole lot of time with me as a child. He purchased me my first digital camera and taught me tips on how to use it.”

For the entire summer time, Fuller supervised building of the Dome whereas “college students from MIT and different colleges, however principally MIT, constructed it,” stated Peterson.


Buckminster Fuller, taken by 12-year-outdated Joel Peterson with a digital camera Fuller sport him.

“He was a dreamer,” stated Peterson. “I don’t know that he made some huge cash at any time. He definitely lived modestly. A part of the deal was we needed to put him up.”

Hap Klopp, who owned the enduring outside model, The North Face and employed Fuller to make a geodesic tent, recalled Fuller as somebody who “beloved the Cape. He beloved crusing,” stated Klopp, who lives in Berkeley, California. (Klopp has co-authored three books with Brian Tarcy of Cape Cod Wave.)

“He claimed to have gotten kicked out of Harvard for spending an excessive amount of time with occasion women. So, he went to the seaside on the Cape and deliberate to stroll out into the ocean and finish his life,” stated Klopp.

“Whereas there on the seashores he had an epiphany that his actual calling was to really change the world.  At that time he devoted himself to doing so. He additionally devoted himself to by no means worrying about cash, figuring out that good concepts would someway get him funded,” stated Klopp.

“I used to be very lucky,” stated Arne Grepstad, who began working on the dome in 1973, and continued there for many years, finally shopping for restaurant, not the constructing, in 1987. “I truly obtained to satisfy Bucky Fuller,” he stated.

“He used to come back again to Falmouth,” stated Grepstad. “He was concerned in a undertaking on the New Alchemy Institute, the place he was making an attempt to boost probably the most quantity of meals on one piece of land that he might.”

Joel Peterson, who owned the Dome

Joel Peterson, who owned the Dome. He was 12 when his father employed Buckminster Fuller to construct it.

“At any time when he got here again to Falmouth, he would return to Woods Gap as a result of, as he stated, he wished to look in on his child,” stated Grepstad. “He would come again and we'd stroll round. One time, he stated, ‘As an outdated man, I understand the Dome truly labored.’”

“He had ideas of enclosing an entire city in a dome,” stated Grepstad. “He was ahead pondering, eccentric.”

“My father thought he was a genius,” stated Peterson of Fuller. “He was a renaissance man… He was very a lot out of the field earlier than anybody knew they had been within the field.”

WaveThe Dome

Peterson stated his father, E. Gunnar Peterson, was an architect who had a dream of proudly owning an inn and a restaurant on Cape Cod. Peterson stated his father contacted Fuller as a result of “domes in 1953 had been distinctive.”

Previous to the Woods Gap Dome, Fuller had solely constructed one different geodesic dome, on the iconic Ford Rotunda in Deerborn, Michigan. The Ford Rotunda burned down in 1962, leaving the constructing in Woods Gap is Fuller’s oldest surviving geodesic dome.


Contained in the Dome, maybe opening evening. Picture taken by 12-year-outdated Joel Peterson within the early 1950s

“I’ve at all times stated it’s most likely probably the most historic constructing on Cape Cod,” stated Peterson. “It’s the oldest Bucky Fuller geodesic dome on the planet.”

Fuller arrived in Woods Gap having simply accomplished work on one of many greatest vacationer points of interest within the Midwest. Building the dome on the Ford Rotunda was, apparently, an enormous deal.

In Woods Gap, the Dome “was inbuilt sections,” stated Peterson. “The high part was dropped in by helicopter. Not as a result of they needed to, however as a result of it was newsworthy.”

When it was first constructed, “everyone hated The Dome,” stated Peterson. “There was vandalism. It was dangerous, form of like hating Trump now. All people was in opposition to it. This was terrible. It was going to wreck the city as we all know it. It was too fashionable.”

After which, as Grepstad stated, “Fifty years does a whole lot of humorous issues.”

By the point the restaurant closed in 2002, Grepstad recalled that among the similar individuals who he had at all times heard opposed its opening in 1953  wished the Dome preserved.

“I don’t need to exit and use any names, however a husband and spouse who had been very a lot in opposition to it when it was constructed then stated, ’Oh my God, you possibly can’t take it away,’” recalled Grepstad.

And Peterson added, “It’s ironic. The grandchildren of the individuals who had been opposing it aren't solely in favor of it, however hampering the sale.”

Arne Grepstad, former owner of the Dome Restaurant

Arne Grepstad, former proprietor of the Dome Restaurant

In truth, it’s the restrictions on the constructing that Peterson known as probably the most historic on the Cape, that definitely pose an enormous monetary impediment to improvement.

“I really feel dangerous for the homeowners,” stated Peterson. “It doesn’t have an unbelievable quantity of makes use of because it stands. If I wished to protect it, I wouldn’t have bought it. I respect the homeowners proper to do regardless of the hell they need, very similar to I might have performed.”

Peterson stated he was pushed for years to place the Dome on the Nationwide Historic Register. “I didn’t need to go to Washington if I wished to color the entrance door totally different,” he stated. “You need to get an act of Congress to do something. It was simply one other hoop to leap by way of that I had little interest in.”

WaveIt’s Alive, The Futurist’s Aging Dream

“The constructing strikes,” stated Peterson. “Bucky made up the phrase, ‘geodesic.’ There are not any pillars. One part is pushing on the opposite. If you're in there and it’s quiet, it’s transferring on a regular basis. It’s just like the constructing is alive.”

However Peterson stated these swaying items, put collectively “like a jungle health club,” induced an issue that Peterson’s mother and father, Peterson, Grepstad, and subsequent homeowners till it closed all handled: the constructing leaked.

In truth, the constructing underwent numerous modifications, beginning with the unique mylar shell, which let an excessive amount of solar in and blew off within the hurricane of 1958, stated Grepstad.

Dome mylar

The Dome with its unique mylar overlaying.

The mylar was changed with fiberglass, after which a lot of the highest of the surface of the Dome needed to be painted with a rubber paint to cease the leaking. “As an alternative of cracking, it might stretch because the Dome moved. It helped, but it surely didn't eradicate the leaking.

“One of many greatest issues was that it at all times leaked,” stated Grepstad. “One Saturday evening we had been stuffed to the gills with folks when it began leaking and somebody at desk 11, with 4 folks, opened an umbrella to finish applause within the restaurant.”

“There isn't any query I'm unhappy to see the situation of the constructing,” stated Grepstad. “However whether or not it ought to be saved, saying this constructing needs to be saved, I’m not on that aspect.”

He stated perhaps it may very well be relocated to MIT.

Peterson additionally puzzled in regards to the knowledge of saving the constructing. “If the city thinks it ought to be preserved, they need to rattling properly purchase it and protect it. To say the proprietor has to protect it, that’s not truthful,” stated Peterson.

In the meantime, Goldman is hoping that if the sale goes by way of the brand new proprietor will work along with her group to discover a public use for the constructing that have to be preserved. What it's used for shall be as much as the proprietor.

She stated she has approached varied non-income and historic teams which have expressed an curiosity in serving to discover funding to take over some form of renovation and repurposing.

The Dome

The Dome

However, she acknowledged, for that to occur there must be an settlement with the proprietor, whoever it finally ends up being.

Goldman stated her group has huge pie-in-the-sky plans for an modern up to date artwork middle with “a small everlasting show describing Buckminster Fuller and his work.”

Neither Peterson nor Grepstad assume that Fuller would have been eager about saving the Dome for its historic worth.

Klopp stated, “Bucky was not nostalgic, he was somebody who embraced the altering world we dwell in and was extra versatile than folks of his age… I are inclined to assume Bucky wouldn’t have been nostalgic about issues however moderately would have seen the necessity for evolution. That being stated, the individuals who may have it are these different futurists who have to be stimulated of their pondering.”

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The Dome In Woods Gap; Buckminster Fuller's Aging Futuristic Building - Cape Cod Wave