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4. Geodesic Domes

Fuller invented the Geodesic Dome in the late 1940s to demonstrate some ideas about housing and ``energetic-synergetic geometry'' which he had developed during WWII. This invention built on his two decade old quest to improve the housing of humanity. It represents a brilliant demonstration of his synergetics principles; and in the right circumstances it could solve some of the pressing housing problems of today (a housing crisis which Fuller predicted back in 1927).

4.1 What is a geodesic dome?

[From Robert T. Bowers' paper on Domes last posted to GEODESIC in 1989.]

A geodesic dome is a type of structure shaped like a piece of a sphere or a ball. This structure is comprised of a complex network of triangles that form a roughly spherical surface. The more complex the network of triangles, the more closely the dome approximates the shape of a true sphere [sic].

By using triangles of various sizes, a sphere can be symmetrically divided by thirty-one great circles. A great circle is the largest circle that can be drawn around a sphere, like the lines of latitude [ED: he means longitude] around the earth, or the equator. Each of these lines divide the sphere into two halves, hence the term geodesic, which is from the Latin meaning ``earth dividing.''

[From Mitch Amiano]

The dome is a structure with the highest ratio of enclosed area to external surface area, and in which all structural members are equal contributors to the whole. There are many sizes of triangles in a geodesic [ED: dome], depending on the frequency of subdivision of the underlying spherical polyhedron. The cross section of a geodesic [ED: dome] approximates a great-circle line.

Do domes really weigh less than their component materials?

[From Pat Salsbury]

Well, the structures weigh less when completed because of the air-mass inside the dome. When it's heated warmer than the outside air, it has a net lifting effect (like a hot-air balloon).

This is almost unnoticeable in smaller structures, like houses, but, as with other things about geodesics, being as they're based upon spheres, the effect increases geometrically with size. So you'd be able to notice it in a sports stadium, and a sphere more than a half mile in diameter would be able to float in the air with only a 1 degree F difference in temperature!

What about underground concrete domes?

[From Randy Burns.]

Underground concrete domes are rather interesting

1) They can use chemical sealing and landscaping to avoid leakage problems associated with wooden domes.

2) They are extremely strong. Britz [see Dome References for more on Britz] has obtained extremely low insurance rates on his structures. The insurance company tested one building by driving a D8 Caterpillar tractor on top of the house!

3) There's little hassle involved in dealing with materials that were really standardized for use building boxes. The only specialized tools are the forms, everything else can easily be used off the shelf.

4) They can be quite aesthetic. Britz has shown that you can build developments where the houses can't really see each other.

5) They are cheap and easy to heat, cheap enough that you can build a much larger structure than you might using conventional housing and use standard room divider technology to split the thing up into room.

What are geotangent domes?

[Keyed in by Patrick G. Salsbury.]

The following is quoted from ``Scientific American'' in the September 1989 issue. (Pages 102-104)

Surpassing the Buck (Geometry decrees a new dome)

``I started with the universe--as an organization of energy systems of which all our experiences and possible experiences are only local instances. I could have ended up with a pair of flying slippers.'' -R. Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller never did design a pair of flying slippers. Yet he became famous for an invention that seemed almost magical: the geodesic dome, an assemblage of triangular trusses that grows stronger as it grows larger. Some dispute that Fuller originated the geodesic dome; in Science a la Mode, physicist and author Tony Rothman argues that the Carl Zeiss Optical Company built and patented the first geodesic dome in Germany during the 1920's. Nevertheless, in the wake of Fuller's 1954 patent, thousands of domes sprung up as homes and civic centers--even as caps on oil-storage tanks. Moreover, in a spirit that Fuller would have heartily applauded, hundreds of inventors have tinkered with dome designs, looking for improved versions. Now one has found a way to design a completely different sort of dome.

In May, J. Craig Yacoe, a retired engineer, won patent number 4,825,602 for a ``geotangent dome,'' made up of pentagons and hexagons, that promises to be more versatile that its geodesic predecessor. Since Fuller's dome is based on a sphere, cutting it anywhere but precisely along its equator means that the triangles at the bottom will tilt inward or outward. In contrast, Yacoe's dome, which has a circular base, follows the curve of an ellipsoid. Builders can consequently pick the dimensions they need, Yacoe Says. And his design ensures that the polygons at the base of his dome always meet the ground at right angles, making it easier to build than a geodesic dome. He hopes these features will prove a winning combination.

Although Fuller predicted that a million domes would be built by the mid-1980's, the number is closer to 50,000. Domes are nonetheless still going up in surprising places. A 265-foot-wide geodesic dome is part of a new pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center in Florida. A bright blue 360-foot-high dome houses a shopping center in downtown Ankara, Turkey. Stockholm, Sweden, boasts a 280-foot-high dome enclosing a new civic center.

Dome design is governed by some basic principles. A sphere can be covered with precisely 20 equilateral triangles; for a geodesic dome, those triangles are carved into smaller ones of different sizes. But to cover a sphere or ellipsoid with various sizes of pentagons and hexagons required another technique, Yacoe says.

Yacoe eventually realized that he could build a dome of polygonal panels guided by the principle that one point on each side of every panel had to be tangent to (or touch) an imaginary circumscribed dome. With the assistance of William E. Davis, a retired mathematician, he set out to describe the problem mathematically.

They began with a ring of at least six congruent pentagons wrapped around the equator of an imaginary ellipse. The task: find the lengths of the sides and the interior angles of the polygons that form the next ring.

To do so for an ellipsoidal dome, they imagined inscribing an ellipse inside each polygon. Each ellipse touched another at one point; at these points, the sides of the polygons would also be tangent to a circumscribed ellipsoid. But where, precisely, should the points be located? Yacoe and Davis guessed, then plugged the numbers into equations that describe ellipses and intersecting planes. Aided by a personal computer, they methodically tested many guesses until the equations balanced. Using the tangent points, Yacoe and Davis could then calculate the dimensions and interior angles of the corresponding polygons and so build the next ring of the dome.

After receiving the patent, Yacoe promptly set up a consulting firm to license his patents. He says dome-home builders have shown considerable interest, as has Spitz, Inc., a maker of planetariums located near Yacoe in Chadds Ford, Pa. Yacoe has also proposed that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration consider a geotangent structure as part of a space station. -E.C.

What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of Dome Life? (Alan Semon) writes:
>I was once interested in the idea of living in a geodesic dome home and,
>to the best of my recollection, these are some of the advantages:
>1. Heating and cooling the home become more efficient due to the fact
>that there are fewer (even no) corners where heat may be trapped.  The
>overall air flow in a dome is substantially better than in a
>conventionally constructed home (straight walls and such).
 ...and there is less surface area per square foot of living space = less
heat loss.

>2. Many dome home designs allow the option of using larger lumber for
>the dome.  2x6's or 2x8's instead of the usual 2x4's, although this is
>an option in ANY home, it seems to be more commonly done in dome home
Although for many areas of the US, there is no financial advantage to
using 2x6 construction.  A dome with R-14 throughout can outperform a
well insulated conventional house of comparable S/F.

>3. For those solar minded people, the placement of the solar collectors
>on the ``roof'' is less critical due to the curved nature of the top of
>the structure.
>4. The inherent strength of the dome makes it suitable for either
>earth-bermed or even earth covered construction techniques.  In the case
>of more common construction techniques, the structural members'
>dimensions usually need to be completely reworked in order to carry the
>extra weight.
>5. Hell, they _LOOK_ pretty neat!  This might be a problem in certain
>areas which one of those laws which say that all homes in an area _MUST_
>conform to certain guidelines concerning their architecture (bummer,
>huh?  :-)).


[Based in part on a Brewer Eddy post]

The curved walls in a dome require either custom furnishings, 100% prefab design, or an ``open spaces'' approach. Each of these would be an advantage or disadvantage in one person's eyes or another's.

Mass producing domes is easy, greatly reduces the cost and could solve many of the housing shortage problems worldwide (especially emergency housing needs).

How to use solar panels in domes? [Kerri Brochard]

[From Tom Dosemagen]

I have a dome and tried to find solar panels to be installed on the dome. I had no luck finding such a beast so I installed 320 square feet of panels on the ground close to the dome and ran all connections under ground into the basement. I live in south central Wisconsin and my experience with solar is not the greatest. My system works fine, but in order for the system to work the sun has to shine. That doesn't happen a lot here until late February or early March. My advice to people in our part of country is to take the money you were going to spend on solar and invest it. Then take your interest money and pay for conventional heat. My dome is 44 feet in diameter and with a 90% efficient furnace and my total heating bill for one season is right around $350.00. My exterior walls are framed with 2x6's. With thicker dome walls I'm sure that I could lower my heating costs by quite a bit.

4.2 Dome Math: What you've all been waiting for!!!

Dome Theory

[From Kirby Urner.]

The edges of a geodesic dome are not all the same length. The angstrom measurements between neighboring carbon atoms in a fullerene are likewise not equal.

Domes come in three Classes (I, II and III). The classification system has to do with laying an equilateral triangle down on a grid of smaller equilateral triangles, lining up corners with corners -- either aligning the triangle with the grid (I), turning it 90 degrees to bisect grid triangles (II), or rotating it discretely to have it cut skewly across the grid (III).

20 of these triangles make an icosahedron which is then placed within a circumscribing sphere. The vertexes of the triangles' internal points, defined by the grid pattern, define radii with the circumscribing sphere's center. By pushing each vertex further out along the segments so defined, until each is made equidistant from the center, an omnitriangulated geodesic sphere is formed (orthonormal projection I think cartographers call this). Again, resulting surface edge lengths are not all the same length. The resulting mesh will always contain 12 sets of 5 triangles organized into pentagons, the rest into hexagons.

The Class I version of the algorithm above always creates 20F^2 surface facets where F=1 gives the icosahedron itself. The external point population will be 10F^2+2. Since points plus facets = edges plus 2 (Euler), you will get 30F^2 edges. F is what Fuller called the Frequency of the geodesic sphere and, in the Class I case, corresponds to the number of grid intervals along any one of the 20 triangle edges.

Note: ``buckyballs'' in the sense of ``fullerenes'' are not omnitriangulated (the edges internal to the 12 pentagons and n hexagons have been removed) and come in infinitely more varieties than the above algorithm allows. The above algorithm is limited to generating point groups with icosahedral symmetry -- a minority of the fullerenes are symmetrical in this way, although C60, the most prevalent, is a derivative of the Class I structure.

[From Ben Williams]
Andrew Norris writes:
>1/ Given a dodecahedron with the edges of length unity, what is
>   the radius of the sphere that would enclose this body?
>2/ For the above case, construct each pentagon out of triangles.
>   What are the angles required so that new center-node of the
>   pentagon just touches the enclosing sphere?
This is just a 2 frequency (what-is-referred-to-in-Domebook II-as) triacon geodesic sphere. Funny you should mention that: Back in June when I first discovered this newsgroup, I got reinterested in my old hobby of building mathematical models (and R B Fuller as well). So I went through the laborious process of calculating the strut lengths to build a 2v triacon sphere (what you just described above) out of toothpicks. I have it hanging up over my monitor right now. I wish I could show how I used geometry and such to figure all the necessary lengths out. What I do is start out with a drawing of a dodecahedron projected onto a plane -- if it is oriented correctly, you will get a 2-d figure that you can use to deduce the information you want from it. (To get this figure, think of a dodecahedron made out of struts (such as toothpicks) standing on one of its edges on a sheet of paper out in the sun with the sun directly overhead. The shadow on the paper will be this figure.) These are the lengths I derived

E = length of edge of dodecahedron Distance of edge of dodecahedron from center:

Er = ( (3 + sqrt(5))/4 ) * E
1/2 distance between non-adjacent vertices of face of dodecahedron:
b = ( (sqrt(5)+1)/4 ) * E
given a face of dodecahedron, distance between vertex and opposite edge:
h = ( ( sqrt(5 + 2*sqrt(5)) ) / 2 ) * E
distance from center of dodecahedron to one of its vertices (your question 1):
R = sqrt((9 + 3*sqrt(5))/8) * E
given a face of dodecahedron, distance from its center to an edge:
l = b/h * Er
distance from center of face of dodecahedron to center of dodecahedron:
m = Er/h * Er
given face of dodecahedron, distance from center to vertex:
t = h-l
length of one of those struts going from a vertex of dodecahedron up to point above center of face but on the enclosing sphere:
S = sqrt(t^2 + (R-m)^2)

Now, to derive the angles of one of those triangles whose side lengths I have just determined, you would need to do this:

A1 = 2 * arcsin ((E/2)/S)

This is the angle of the top corners of the 5 triangles which are arched above one of the faces of the dodecahedron. My calculator gives me this angle in degrees: 67.66866319 Notice it is slightly less than the 72 degrees it would be if they were flat on the face of the dodecahedron. Now the other two angles of each of the triangles are simply derived via:

A2 and A3 = (180 - A1) / 2

I get a value of 56.1656684 degrees for these two angles.

What are the basics of Spherical Trigonometry?

 On Sat, 18 Dec 1993 03:11:53 GMT <scimatec5@UOFT02.UTOLEDO.EDU> said:
 >Hey all,
 >     A while back I asked about calculating chord factors.  I found the
 >equation that without which I don't think I could have done it (by the way I
 >was successful)-- it's a formula for calculating w/any spherical right
 >triangle.  The formula is sin a = sin A * sin c.
 >         A
 >        / |
 >    c  /  |b
 >      /   |
 >     /    |
 >    B--a--C
 >I'm sure you're all familiar w/it, but is there any other equation that would
 >be just as helpful.
 This is by Napier's rules.  Here is Napier's circle:         c-c
                                                         A-c       B-c
                                                            b   a
where -c means the complement (or 90 degrees - (minus) the arclength measure). A, B are angles, C is the right angle and a, b, c are the sides opposite A, B, and C, respectively. There are two rules:
Rule 1:

The sine of any unknown part is equal to the product of the cosines of the two known opposite parts. Or sin = cos * cos of the OPPOSITE parts.

Rule 2:

The sine of any unknown part is equal to the product of the tangents of its two known adjacent parts. Or sin = tan * tan of the ADJACENT parts.

Your formula is the same because ``c-c''=90-c and sin(90-c)=cos(c). Examples: sin(b)=tan(A-c)tan(a) or sin(b)=cos(c-c)cos(B-c).
>                                                            Steve Mather
Chris Fearnley

How to tesselate a sphere?

[From an old FAQ, posted by Christopher McRae 14 Apr 1993.] One simple way is to do recursive subdivision into triangles. The base of the recursion is an octahedron, and then each level divides each triangle into four smaller ones. Jon Leech has posted a nice routine called sphere.c that generates the coordinates. It's available for FTP on and

Chord Factors - the nitty gritty.

First choose a tessellation of the sphere (icosa, octa, tetra, elliptical or really just about anything. Second use geometry and spherical trig to determine the surface arclengths for the specific tessellation. Third observe that in any circle a central angle cuts off an arc with the same exact measure. Next, calculate the chord factors: cf = 2sin(theta/2), where theta is the central angle. Finally, multiply each chord factor by the radius of your dome.

Several dome books use the term ``alternate'' to refer to Class I domes (actually it seems Joe Clinton in his paper on domes has determined several methods for class I subdivisions - his method I is the ``alternate'' form). The other popular subdivisioning scheme is based on the rhombic triacontrahedron and is called ``triacon.''

[From Steve Mather]

Hey all, I have some questions to ask about the trigonometry behind geodesic domes. Remarkably, I've understood what I've encountered so far, and am well on my way to calculating the the chord factors for a 5v icosa alternate (Why? when I can look it up in a book? Well, I figured I'd prove to myself I can.) I've been able to find those along the direct projection from the icosahedron (are 0.198147431 w/central angle of 11.3716678 degrees, 0.231597598 w/central angle of 13.29940137, and 0.245346417 w/central angle of 14.09281254 accurate beginnings for the outside?

[A big thanks to Steve for calculating and typing in all this for us!!! I'm not certain about the results, but he did such a careful job that I suspect they are correct. I'm sure someone will check this more carefully. Please let me know of any problems.]

The letters begin at the bottom of the horizontal edges to the triangle, from ``a'' to whatever letter (depending upon the frequency --``a'' is the very bottom, as well as the sides.) The numbers are the chord factors.

The way I calculated my factors was like this:

I took the frequency (f) and divided the degree of the central angle of that frequency. I then multiplied this number times the number of rows down the row of lines are (check figure.) I took the sine of this number and multiplied it times the sine of the face angle (the angle between the great circles) to find the sine of half of the angle across the row (whew-- is this making any sense? =) I then multiply this angle times two and divide by the number of rows down (check second sentence and figure.)

This gives me the angle of the geodesic I want. I then take these numbers and divide by two, take the sine and multiply by two, to find the chord factor. These chord factors are multiplied times the radius to get their lengths.

Here are the equations used:

    f= frequency
    n= number of rows
    A= face angle
    All numbers are in degrees

      2 sin^-1((sin((63.43494885/f)*n))*sinA))
(the extra ")" shouldn't be there. sorry, my computer's acting up, and for some reason I can't delete it.) That was the equation for getting the geodesic. The chord factors are done from those by the following equation:
      Angle= v 2sin (v/2)

2v icosa:    b= 0.6257378602
             a= 0.5465330581

3v:          c= 0.4240625600
             b= 0.4038282455
             a= 0.3669588162

4v:          d= 0.3212440714
             c= 0.3128689301
             b= 0.2980880630
             a= 0.2759044843
5v:          e= 0.2581842991
             d= 0.2539357295
             c= 0.2465769121
             b= 0.2357285878
             a= 0.2209776479

6v:          f= 0.2156929803
             e= 0.2132468999
             d= 0.2090569265
             c= 0.2029619174
             b= 0.1947619676
             a= 0.1842631079

7v:          g= 0.1851588097
             f= 0.1836232302
             e= 0.1810112024
             d= 0.1772461840
             c= 0.1722282186
             b= 0.1658460763
             a= 0.1579992952

8v:          h= 0.1621725970
             g= 0.1611459677
             f= 0.1594077788
             e= 0.1569181915
             d= 0.1536238835
             c= 0.1494619675
             b= 0.1443671359
             a= 0.1382831736

9v:          i= 0.1442501297
             h= 0.1435301153
             g= 0.1423149814
             f= 0.1405824320
             e= 0.1383022055
             d= 0.1354375402
             c= 0.1319478012
             b= 0.1277927679
             a= 0.1229389715

10v:         j= 0.1298874025
             i= 0.1293630412
             h= 0.1284801673
             g= 0.1272255402
             f= 0.1255810391
             e= 0.1235242767
             d= 0.1210296754
             c= 0.1180702193
             b= 0.1146200925
             a= 0.1106583339

11v:         k= 0.1181213623
             j= 0.1177276963
             i= 0.1170660293
             h= 0.1161281074
             g= 0.1149025743
             f= 0.1133752524
             e= 0.1115296266
             d= 0.1093476232
             c= 0.1068107860
             b= 0.1039019434
             a= 0.1006074045

12v          l= 0.1083071374          
             k= 0.1080040870          
             j= 0.1074954030          
             i= 0.1067757281          
             h= 0.1058376643          
             g= 0.1046719125          
             f= 0.1032675068          
             e= 0.1016121871          
             d= 0.09969296006         
             c= 0.09749689909         
             b= 0.09501222476         
             a= 0.09222967293        
13v          m= 0.09999681431 
             l= 0.09975856278 
             k= 0.09935906240 
             j= 0.09879471539 
             i= 0.09806054042 
             h= 0.09715024635 
             g= 0.09605635362 
             f= 0.09477038423 
             e= 0.09328314541 
             d= 0.09158513461 
             c= 0.08966709201 
             b= 0.08752071743
             a= 0.08513955025 

14v          n= 0.09286965560
             m= 0.09267896531
             l= 0.09235948034
             k= 0.09190871293
             j= 0.09132321201
             i= 0.09059860431
             h= 0.08972966070
             g= 0.08871039868
             f= 0.08753423341
             e= 0.08619419334
             d= 0.08468321460
             c= 0.08299452818
             b= 0.08112214654
             a= 0.07906144555

15v          o= 0.08668999531
             n= 0.08653500116
             m= 0.08627549580
             l= 0.08590971508
             k= 0.08543520816
             j= 0.08484886148
             i= 0.08414693683
             h= 0.08332512917
             g= 0.08237865120
             f= 0.08130235310
             e= 0.07955142649
             d= 0.07873891823
             c= 0.07724141051
             b= 0.07559395328
             a= 0.07379316114

Octahedron geodesics:
alternate only

2v:            b= 1.0000000000 (exact)
               a= 0.7653668647

3v:            c= 0.7071067812
               b= 0.6471948470
               a= 0.5176380902

4v:            d= 0.5411961001
               c= 0.5176380902
               b= 0.4701651493
               a= 0.3901806440

5v:            e= 0.4370160244
               d= 0.4253582426
               c= 0.4032283118
               b= 0.3667034258
               a= 0.3128689301
6v:            f= 0.3360254038
               e= 0.3594040993
               d= 0.3472963553
               c= 0.3280400675
               b= 0.2996195680
               a= 0.2610523844

7v:            g= 0.3146921227
               f= 0.3105694162
               e= 0.3032077023
               d= 0.2918376001
               c= 0.2754043542
               b= 0.2528648441
               a= 0.2239289522

I hope I typed those all in right.

4.3 How to build a geodesic dome?

[From Trevor Blake]

If there is any one Frequently Asked Question online in the 'Fuller School' (an unsupervised collection of mailing lists, Web pages and other online forums relating to R. Buckminster Fuller ) it is ``How do I build a geodesic dome?''

Trevor's web page, How to Build a Geodesic Dome, isn't comprehensive but might get you started.

4.4 Did Fuller invent the Dome?

[From Lloyd Kahn]

Fuller did not invent the geodesic dome. It was invented by Walter Bauersfeld of the Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany in 1922, and the first use of it was as a planetarium on the roof of Zeiss that year.

Geodesic Domes and Charts of the Heavens gives further background.

[From Chris Fearnley]

However, Fuller was awarded several patents for the dome. Among them are US patent #2682235 (1954), US patent #288171 (1959), US patent #2905113 (1959), US patent #2914074 (1959), etc. Moreover, Fuller was the one who popularized the technology and pointed out the dome's advantages and the reasons for its great strength.

Since Bauersfeld conceived of his structure merely as a planetarium projector (a truly impressive feat) whereas Fuller had a more comprehensive vision of the geometrical and engineering significance of the dome. Which man should win history's designation as "The inventor of the dome"? I'll let the historians and the pundits debate that one.

4.5 Dome References

Geodesic Dome websites

The locations of Dome websites changes frequently. The FAQ editor maintains a listing at Kirby Urner maintains one at, and the Buckminster Fuller Institute maintains a list at

Dome Vendors

The list below has been enhanced by contributions from Joe Moore, Gary Lawrence Murphy, Garnet MacPhee, Robert Holder, and Matthew V. J. Whalen. This list is alphabetical. AT&T's AnyWho service provides a way to check for current information about any company including these vendors.

Affordable Dome Ceilings Inc                   Updated: Oct 2002
Melbourne, FL 32935             Tel:  321-259-759

Aluminum Geodesic Domes and Spheres            Updated: Oct 2002
2111 Southwest 31st Avenue      Edwin O'Toole
Hollywood, FL 33021             Tel:  954-963-2341      Fax:

American Geodesics, Inc.                       Updated: Oct 2002
1505 Webster St.                Ben Rose
Richmond VA 23220-2319          Tel: 804-643-3184
a.k.a. Semispheres Building Systems

American Ingenuity, Inc.                       Updated: Oct 2002
8777 Holiday Springs Road
Rockledge, FL 32955-5805        Tel:  321-639-8777
Planning kit; Video; EPS Foam covered w/concrete Shells

Applied Geodesics, Inc.                        Updated: Nov 2002
P.O. Box 61741
Vancouver, WA. 98660            Tel: 877-518-1110

Asphalt Sealcoating Products                   Updated: Oct 2002
2111 Sw 31st Avenue
Hollywood, FL 33021             Tel:  305-625-9436  

Astro-Tec Inc                                  Updated: Oct 2002
550 Elm Ridge Avenue
Canal Fulton, OH 44614          Tel: 330 854 2209

Charter Industries Inc Dome Strctrs            Updated: Oct 2002
5325 Barclay Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606               Tel:  919-859-1872

Common Wealth Solar Svs.                       Updated: Oct 2002
12433 Autumn Sun Lane
Ashland VA, 23005               Tel: 804-798-5371

Conservatek                                    Updated: Nov 2002
498 Loop 336 E.
Conroe, TX 77301                Tel: 800-880-3663 Fax: 936-539-5355

Deery Development Inc                          Updated: Oct 2002
28101 South Yates Avenue 
Beecher, IL  60401              Tel:  708-946-9292

Dome Inc                                       Updated: Oct 2002
2550 University Avenue West 
Saint Paul, MN 55114            Tel:  612-333-3663

Domelite of Arizona                            Updated: Oct 2002
Phoenix, AZ 85034               Tel: 602-264-6631

Domes America, Inc.                            Updated: Oct 2002
126 S. Villa Ave.               Bob Casey
Villa Park, IL 60181            Tel:  630-993-1801
Fax: (630) 993 1809

Domes Northwest                                Updated: Nov 2002
335 Vedelwood Drive
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864          Tel: 208-255-4840

Domtec International                           Updated: Oct 2002
4355 N Haroldsen Drive
Idaho Falls, ID 83401           Tel:  208-522-5520

Econ-O-Dome                                    Updated: Oct 2002
RR 1, Box 295B
Sullivan, IL 61951              Tel: 1-888-DOME-LUV (1-888-366-3588) 

Energy Structures, Inc.                        Updated: Oct 2002
893 Wilson Avenue               Joe & Kevin Frawley
St.Paul, MN 55106               Tel: 651-772-3559       Fax: 612-772-1207

Fourth Dimension Housing                       Updated: Oct 2002
190 N. Livingston Bay Rd.
Camano Island, WA 98282                        Tel: 360-387-1438                            1-888-301-7715

Geocon Manufacturing Inc                      Updated: Oct 2002
1502 Antelope Road
White City, OR 97503            Tel: 541 826 4545

Geodesic Domes and Homes Co.                   Updated: Oct 2002
P.O. Box 575                    Larry Knackstedt      Ray Howard
Whitehouse, TX 75791            Tel: 903-839-2000       Fax: (903) 839 7228
(800) 825-2389

GeoDomes Woodworks                             Updated: Oct 2002
6876 Indiana Avenue, Suite L    Bob Davies & Glenn Van Doren
Riverside, CA 92501             Tel: 909-787-8800       Fax: 909-787-7089
Home Planning Guide; Wood kits

Geometrica, Inc.                               Updated: Nov 2002
908 Town & Country Blvd., Suite 330
Houston, TX 77024               Tel: 713-722-7555 Fax: 713-722-0331

Geo Tech Systems. Inc.                         Updated: Nov 2002
Corporate Office
775 Bunker Hill Rd.
South Tamworth, NH 03883        Tel: 603-323-8180

Hexadome                                       Updated: Nov 2002
Glencor International
PO Box 519
Mount Compass
South Australia 5210            Tel: (08) 8556 8701

Good Karma Domes                               Updated: Nov 2002
James Lynch
3531 S.W. 42nd street
Oklahoma City, OK 73119         Tel: 405-685-4822

Growing Spaces                                 Updated: Nov 2002
P.O. Box 5518
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147        Tel: 800-753-9333

Hexadome                                       Updated: Oct 2002
Gene Hopster
El Cajon, CA 92020              Tel: 619 440 0434

Key Dome Inc.                                  Updated: Oct 2002
10393 Southwest 186th           Peter Vanderklaaw
Miami, FL 33157                 Tel: 305-233-9000
[From Bruce Carroll]: If your looking just for plans/blueprints, try Key
Domes, in Miama, FL (305)-665-3541. They have 3 different types of plans
(foam/concrete, plywood on 2X4/6, and plywood panels).

KCS (KingDomes)                                Updated: Oct 2002
P.O. Box 980427                 Einar Thorstein
Houston, TX 77098               Tel:                    Fax:
EDC Booklet (European design, 163 solutions, kits, math)

Littlewood Geodesic Domes                      Updated: Nov 2002
3814a - 53a Street
Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Canada T9A 2T7                   Tel: (780) 352-2569 or 497-0513

Monolithic Constructors, Inc.                  Updated: Oct 2002
177 Dome Park Place             Tel (972)483-7423 - Fax (972)483-6662
Italy, TX 76651                 Tel: 800-608-0001       Fax:
Video; Free brochure; Concrete Domes

Natural Spaces Domes                           Updated: Nov 2002
37955 Bridge Road,              Dennis Johnson
North Branch, MN 55056          Tel: 800-733-7107       Fax:
Local Phone: 651 674 4292
``All About Domes''; Video; Wood kits; Dome building classes
[Tom Dosemagen]  Inquire about their ``All About Domes'' book.  Dennis has
  developed two different hub and strut systems for constructing domes.
  The people at Natural Spaces, who have been in the dome business
  for over 20 years, feel that the best way to insulate a dome is with
  fiberglass insulation.

Natural Habitat Domes                          Updated: Oct 2002
N4981 County Road "S"
Plymouth, WI 53073              Tel: 920 893 5308

New Age Construction Co.                       Updated: Nov 2002
13288-T Domes Ridge
Duncanville, AL 35456           Tel: 205-758-1996

Northface                                      Unverified
999 Harrison Court              Bruce Hamilton
Berkeley, CA 94710              Tel: 415-527-9700       Fax:

Oregon Dome, Inc.                              Updated: May 1999
25331 Jeans Rd.                 Roger & Linda Boothe
Veneta, OR 97487                Tel: 541-935-5444
Phone: (800) 572-8943

Pacific Domes                                  Updated: Nov 2002
247 Granite Street
Ashland, OR 97520               Tel: 1-541-488-7737

P.D. Structures                                Updated: Nov 2002
180-4 Poplar St.                Robert Gray
Rochester, NY 14620             Tel: 585-256-3918
Pillow Domes

Pond-Brook Products                            Unverified
P.O. Box 301                    Gladys Payne
Franklin Lakes, NJ 07412        Tel:                    Fax:
Hexa-Pent Dome Plans

Precision Structures LLC                       Updated: Oct 2002
2565 Potter St.
Eugene, OR 97405                Tel:                    Fax:
Book; ``Professional Dome Plans''; See Mother Earth News, 1-90
A book of detailed shop drawings and formulas for building wood framed,
3v icosa, panelized geodesic domes.

Shadow Wood Domes Inc                          Updated: Nov 2002
15250 South Paradise Lane
Mulino, OR 97042                Tel: 503 829 6370
AnyWho Categories: Dome Structures

Shelter Systems-OL                             Updated: Nov 2002
224 Walnut St.                  Bob Gillis
Menlo Park, CA 95060            Tel: 650-323-6202       Fax: 650-323-1220
Large dome tents, greenhouses, etc.

Solardome Industries Ltd.                     Updated: Nov 2002
P.O. Box 767
Southampton, SO16 7UA
United Kingdom                  Tel: +44 (0) 23 80 767676

Starnet International Corp.                   Updated: Nov 2002
200 Hope St.
Longwood, FL 32750              Tel: 407-830-1199 Fax: 407-830-1817

Stromberg's Chicks & Gamebirds             Updated: Nov 2002
100 York Street
Pine River, 4, MN 56474         Tel: 218-587-2222       Fax:
Starplate struts to build a dome shed/greenhouse up to 14' diam

Synapse Domes (name may be defunct)            Updated: Nov 2002
Marshall Brasil and Scott Sims     
Brasel & Sims Construction Co
1290 N 2 St
Lander, WY 82520
This company may involve the principles from Synapse Domes.  I have
not been able to verify.  No websites could be found.

Temcor                                         Updated: Nov 2002
PO Box 48008
150 West Walnut Street, Suite 150
Gardena, CA 90248                    Don Richter Tel: 310-523-2322
800-421-2263 within US
Large aluminum commercial domes

Timberline Geodesics Inc                       Updated: Nov 2002
2015 Blake Street               Robert M. Singer
Berkeley, CA 94704              Tel: 510-849-4481       Fax: 510-849-3265
Catalog; Video Tape; Wood kits
Toll-Free:  800-366-3466 (1-800-DOME-HOME)

Ultraflote Corp.                               Updated: Nov 2002
8558-T Katy Freeway, Suite 100
Houston, TX 77024 1809          Tel: 713-461-2100 Fax: 713-461-2213

Western Poly Dome                              Updated: Nov 2002
23430 High Bridge Road
Monroe, WA 98272                Tel: 360 794 4645

Worldflower Garden Domes                       Updated: Nov 2002
P.O. Box 2103                   Tel: 512 863 2762
Georgetown, Tx. 78627 & are Divisions of:
World Merchandising Company                    Updated: Nov 2002
160 Bream Lane
Kingston,TN 37763
David Martin                    Tel: 865-376-2161

Other Dome References

DOME is (was?) a magazine about the geodesic dome (ISSN 1041-1607). Published quarterly by:

      Hoflin Publishing Ltd.
      4401 Zephyr Street
      Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033-3299
      Phone 303/420-2222 (7:30 am to 3:30 pm Denver time)

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers      Updated: May 1999
One Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001              Tel: 212-695-0500       Fax:
See Volumes 1-10: Products & Services (in most libraries)
Thomas' web page is at

National Dome Council                          Updated: May 1999
1201 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005            Tel: 800-368-5242, ext. 576

[From Alex Soojung-Kim Pang]

The two Domebooks -- Domebook, and Domebook Two -- were published in the early 1970s and are now out of print. They were written in much the same fashion as the Whole Earth Catalog, with readers sending in descriptions of their experiences and problems with domes, and the book's staff arranging the pieces, working in photographs and line drawings, etc. They are still often available in libraries, or though university interlibrary-loan. The full citation is:

Lloyd Kahn, et al. Domebook (One). Los Gatos: Pacific Domes, 1970. Lloyd Kahn, et al. Domebook Two. Bolinas, CA: Pacific, 1971. (Distributed by Random House)

[Editor: Warning: The math in these books is known to be inaccurate.]

There was also a book edited by John Prenis (or Prentis, maybe) called The Dome Builders Handbook (Philadelphia: Running Dog Press, ca. 1975). There were two editions of this, as well.

Lloyd Kahn has published three other books that contain information on dome-building: Shelter (which described a wide variety of self-built homes from all over the world), Shelter II (ISBN 0-394-50219), and a pamphlet called Refried Domes (Bolinas: Shelter Publications, 1990) (ISBN 0-936070-10-2). The latter contains the chord factors and angles for 8-frequency domes (critical information, and unavailable anywhere else as far as I can tell), suggestions about construction, and some second thoughts about domes as permanent shelter. If these books are not in your bookstore, you can order them directly from

        Shelter Publications
        Home Book Service
        P.O. Box 279
        Bolinas, CA  94924
If you're interested in learning something about the history of domes in the counterculture, look up Charles Jencks and William Chaitkin, Architecture Today (New York: Harry Abrams, 1982). The magazine Futurist has also published a couple articles on domes in the last couple years.

Another book to look for Steve Baer, Dome Cookbook (Lama Publications, 1968); as I recall, it has tables for computing strut lengths and some useful information about dome construction.

[From Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, 25 Feb 1992]

        Gene Hopster, How to Design and Build Your Dome Home
                (Tucson: HP Books, 1981)
        Edward M. Duke, A Study of the Geodesic Dome Applied
                to Housing (Monticello: Council of Planning
                Librarians, 1973)
        John Fontanetta, Building a Solar-Heated Geodesic Greenhouse
                (Charlotte, VT: Garden Way, 1979)

[From Garnet MacPhee in NOV 1989.]

There is a national association.

National Association of Dome Home Manufacturers
2506 Gross Point Road
Evanston, Illinois 60201

[From Gary Lawrence Murphy and Chris McRae]

Hugh Kenner's ``Geodesic Math and How to Use It'' Berkeley : University of California Press, c1976. xi, 172 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. (ISBN 0-520-02924-0) This is an excellent book for the hobbyist model builder, but also shows geometric derivations for a number of approaches to carving up the surface of a sphere into the smallest practical number of different shaped parts, which is the key matter in dome fabrication. The book also discusses tensegrity designs, although I believe Hugh has since release a volume devoted to tensegrity. For those without calculators :-), the appendix of the book lists the dome-vertex values for many practical frequencies in the basic polyhedral forms.

[From Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, 25 Feb 1992]

A technically useful book is Edward Popko, Geodesics (Detroit: U. Detroit press, 1968). It has lots of photographs, plans for domes made from a whole host of materials, different assembly methods, etc..

[From Matthew Clark, 28 Apr 1993.] Enchanted West, Inc. manufactures lightweight, precision-molded, fiberglass panels for building geodesic domes. Contact us at for more information.

[Posted Dec 1991 by Randy Burns]

Another alternative is concrete, earth sheltered domes. These aren't necessarily geodesic structures. Still, they may well be closer to nearing widespread commercial use than most geodesic structures.

Three Companies involved in this:

Utopia Designs, Eugene OR  (founded by Norm Waterbury)
   These are definitely oriented to the do-it-yourselfer. They specialize in
   selling forms and blueprints for domes build using inflatable forms.
EarthShips, Eugene, OR
   This company was founded by Richard Britz, author of the Edible City
   Resource Manual.  They specialize in turnkey structures and are more
   oriented towards larger developments.  Britz does _wonderful_
   architectural drawings.

Monolithic Structures, Idaho and Stockton  CA
   These folks are primarily involved in building _large_ structures, mainly
   industrial buildings and grain silo's.
[More concrete companies from Russell Miller. 1994]

The following three companies deal with concrete shell domes, some of which are geodesic, but none of which are specifically ``Earth Sheltered.''

American Ingenuity inc.               40' dia kit: $13,058
8777 Holiday Springs Road             Video = $8
Rockledge, Fl                         Address current as of: 1994-05
407-639-8778 (fax)

Key Dome Engineering inc.             Plans only
P.O. Box 430253                       Info pack = $5
South Miami, FL                       Address current as of: 1989

Monolithic Constructors inc.          40' dia dome kit: $2300
1 Dome Park Place                     Video available
P.O. Box 479                          Address current as of: 1994-02
Italy, TX
214-483-6662 (fax)
Build Your Own Geodesic Model:   A.G.S. Products
                                 2111 SW 31 Avenue
                                 Pembroke Park, FL 33009

[From Ross Keatinge, 2 Oct 1993]

I know of two dome manufacturers in Australia:

`The Dome Company' at `Tapitallee' near Nowra NSW. They make house and garden domes 5, 7 and 10 metre diameter. I think they also produce them in kitsets so they may be able to help with hubs etc.

The contact is:   Rob Lusher                Phone (044) 460452
                  The Dome Company
                  PO Box 3043
                  Nth Nowra
                  NSW 2541
Tapitallee is a rainforest retreat centre who run seminars on alternative technologies etc as well as personal growth type stuff. I gather some of their buildings are domes. I'm thinking of spending some time there.
The other is:   Bretcod Geodesic Domes
                27 Allawah Street
                Blacktown  NSW                 Phone (02) 621-7952
He makes all sorts of domes. Since his business is selling completely built domes I'm not sure how helpful he would be.

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