A Look at Bucky Fuller's Dome Over New York City

Black and white image of a proposed dome over part of Manhattan
R. Buckminster Fuller

Kim recently wrote about a proposal for a 'Bubbles' biome in Beijing could let residents breathe clean air It reminded me of an earlier proposal by R. Buckminster Fuller, in 1960, to put a giant geodesic dome over midtown Manhattan. The purpose of the dome was to regulate the weather and reduce air pollution.

Aerial view of plans for the dome in black and white
R. Buckminster Fuller

The dome, running from 62nd Street down to 22nd, was a mile high and 1.8 miles across. According to biographer Alden Hatch:

Its skin would consist of wire-reinforced, one-way vision, shatterproof glass, mist-plated with aluminium to cut sun glare while admitting light. From the outside it would look like a great glittering hemispheric mirror, while from the inside its structural elements would be as invisible as the wires of a screened porch, and it would appear as a translucent film through which the sky, clouds and stars would appear.
View of New York skyline with proposed dome "wall" in background
R. Buckminster Fuller

After this winter in New York, the idea is probably appealing: Fuller claimed that "the cost of snow removal in New York City would pay for the dome in 10 years." Nobody would have to pay for heating or cooling their apartments either; the entire dome would be kept at a comfortable temperature.

Geodesic domes are very efficient, and the whole thing was going to weigh just 4,000 tonnes. Fuller calculated that "a fleet of 16 of the large Sikorsky helicopters could fly all the segments into position in 3 months at a cost of $200m."

According to the New York Times, the City has spent $92.3 million removing snow this year. Perhaps it's time to look at this thing again.

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