Dome Sweet Dome

In 1954, Buckminster Fuller received the U.S. patent for the geodesic dome, a hemi-spherical structure built on a frame of interlocking polygons. (Picture living inside of a giant soccer ball, and you're not far off.) Fuller hoped that geodesic dome structures would catch on big as a solution to the postwar housing crisis.

But like a lot of his designs, (Dymaxion car, anyone?), geodesic domes were never built in the millions that Fuller envisioned. Still, geodesic domes have become the architectural equivalent of a cult favorite film: they found a following among homebuilders and do-it-yourselfers. Geodesic domes are extremely strong and stable, particularly considering their light weight. They can be constructed quickly from modular parts, and they have little surface area relative to how much space they enclose. They create a large indoor space free from columns, walls or other supporting elements. And because a geodesic dome contains no corners, they're said to be fuel efficient as well.

Now the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a two-bedroom, one-bath geodesic dome is for sale in the city's Lincoln-Larimer neighborhood.

Click through to see this and other domes for sale in the Pittsburgh area.

Buyer beware: The property pictured above, which is a foreclosure owned by Fannie Mae, is said to have a mold problem. Weather-sealing problems are a well-known hazard for geodesic domes-they have a lot of seams between the pieces used to built them. The 1,257-square-foot house at 736 Olivant Place, is going for $36,900. See more pictures on Trulia.

The Post-Gazette notes, "Pittsburgh has just a handful of these ball-shaped houses, so you rarely see one on the market."

In a higher price bracket, there's a geodesic dome for sale in Butler, PA, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. That home, a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, 3-story structure on 2.5 wooded acres, is on the market for $169,500, from Tom Stirling at Coldwell Banker. It was constructed in 1991.

North of the city, Slippery Rock, PA, has seven rental apartments set inside a funky geodesic dome built in 1972.

Other geodesic structures in the area include a 10,000 square foot residential dome complex built in 2004-2005 in Murraysville. It belongs to one Rob Thompson (above). Then there's the giant geodesic dome that is the field house at the Community College of Beaver County.

People interested in owning their own round-roofed home can browse the "Domes For Sale" listings maintained by Natural Spaces Domes, a Minnesota company that sells geodesic dome kits.
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