The Climatron: A Massive, Air-Conditioned Dome Greenhouse

By Alexis C. Madrigal

The Bucky Fuller-inspired Geodesic dome encoded the hope that weather would no longer inconvenience humans

Enter The Climatron. This Buckminster Fuller-inspired geodesic dome greenhouse was completed in 1960. Rising 70 feet in the air and completely climate controlled by heating and cooling systems controlled by an old Honeywell control system, the Climatron was able to roughly simulate tropical terrain in Missouri, no small feat. Popular Mechanics declared it, "Tropics on the Half Shell."

The Climatron had an aluminum superstructure, which was covered with Plexiglass. At the time it was built, it was the only geodesic dome enclosed in Plexiglass. It seemed to point the way towards a future in which the weather could no longer impinge upon human pleasure or desire. Science writer Victor Cohn imagined just such a climate-controlled dome ending up in everyone's backyard in his mid-50s book, 1999: Our Hopeful Future.

Emily had the ladies out in the garden bubble--the new enclosed part of the yard (with dining terrace and thirty-foot swimming pool) where the climate was kept the same the year round. And the snow was beautiful through the clear plastic bubble.

So, it may seem an oddity now, but part of the excitement of the Climatron is the hope it embodies: the total humanization of the environment. Let it snow, let it snow. You'll be playing pinochle in the garden bubble in short sleeves, anyhow.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/06/the-climatron-a-massive-air-conditioned-dome-greenhouse/239866/