Friday, October 28, 2016

Eagle Rock’s geodesic dome revival

Geodesic dome makeover./ Dee DeLara

Got a dated dome on your hands?  That was the case for the owners of a 39-foot high geodesic dome on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.  The 1970s building, which was built from a kit by the owners of Eagle Rock Montessori School,  had been empty and unused for some time after the school had moved across the street.   The school owners wanted to put the building to use again but it was in such poor shape that they were considering tearing it down.   “We walked into the space and said ‘please don’t,'” said architect and school parent McShane Murnane, who was hired to work on the project.

So began a year-long process to renovate and update what is simply referred to as The Dome.

Murnane, who had never worked on a geodesic dome before, concedes the structure is a “funny building type” that, along with orange shag carpeting and avocado green appliances, reflects a bygone era, albeit one that enjoys some popularity  among fans of  retro architecture and design.

While the geodesic dome may look funny, it’s actually a pretty efficient and strong structure that creates cavernous interior spaces.  That was the case for the 39-foot wide, 1,200-square foot Eagle Rock dome.

“They are pretty fantastic structures” said Murnane. ” You get huge spaces without any interior columns.”

After the school decided to keep the dome,  Murnane had to figure out a way to update and renovate  the building without detracting from its unique geometric form.

“We wanted to embellish it in a way so it did not seem dated,” said Murnane,  whose firm, Project M Plus, is based in Silver Lake.  “We wanted to expose the structure and … the beauty of the geometry”

The exterior of the dome, which peeks above a wall along Colorado Boulevard, has remained virtually the same except for new roofing and a few skylights. Inside, however, the geometric panels of the dome are now sheathed in strips of  wood and the floor is now a bright shade of orange, creating a playful space intended to serve as a classroom on week days and a community space on weekends.

The project is about eight weeks away from completion. Still on the to-do list is landscaping that will complement the dome and perhaps give it more prominence.

“It’s really a great space when you come in,” Murnane said.  “It has a really big impact.”

New wood siding highlights geometric shapes/M Plus Architecture

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  1. The urban legend surrounding the dome when I was growing up was that it was a place where hippies made music in the 1960s. Now that I know when the dome was built I wonder what the acoustics sound like.

  2. Yeah, geodesic domes! Cheers to the great Buckminster Fuller.

    “When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
    ― Richard Buckminster Fuller

     “Let architects sing of aesthetics that bring
    Rich clients in hordes to their knees;
    Just give me a home, in a great circle dome
    Where stresses and strains are at ease.”
    ― Richard Buckminster Fuller

  3. at 39′ wide, it’s likely only 19-20′ high… i hope they tear down that wall so it’s more visible from the street. i drove by there for years before noticing it one day.

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