Geodesic (adjective)– made of light straight structural elements mostly in tension
(noun)– the shortest line between two points that lies in the given surface
This past weekend I took a walk to Mount Auburn Cemetery, located between Cambridge and Watertown. The historic site was a winding labyrinth of roads and unpaved trails. The founders of the cemetery “wanted their fellow citizens to remember the significance of cycles in an age of linear progress and ‘go-aheadism,’”states The Boston Globe. American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted echoed such a notion that the mazelike terrain is “clearly intended as the ‘antithesis’ of the classic urban grid.” In addition to the meandering paths, the cemetery also has a vast collection of plants. If all the tombstones and mausoleums were to disappear overnight, the place would be like an arboretum and an ornithologists’ heaven.
One of the famous people buried at Mount Auburn is Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, and one of his well-known architectural designs is the geodesic dome. It starts with an icosahedron, a polyhedron with 20 triangular faces. Each face can be categorized two ways: 1) Class- how the larger triangle is divided, and 2) how many smaller triangles are on each side. The Montreal Biosphere that Fuller designed for the U.S. Pavilion at the 1967 World Fair was a Class 1, Frequency 16 icosahedron. Nine years later, a fire burned down the acrylic cells that enclosed the sphere, but the steel truss structure remained. Recently a New York-based studio Dror purposed a second dome to pay homage to Bucky and to revitalize the seasonally-used grounds into a year-round venue.