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METROPOLIS | SO SoCal

Round Town

June 01, 1997|Bill Stern

The Cinerama Dome, designed by Buckminster Fuller and others, is so much a part of L.A.'s landscape we're apt to take the once-revolutionary form for granted. Yet the half-melon shape, so inviting that children happily crawl over Geodesic Climbers on innumerable playgrounds, is uncommon. In Dome Village, at 8th Street and the Harbor Freeway, 18 polyester fiberglass "Omnispheres," designed by Craig Chamberlain, provide a moonscape of living spaces for the homeless. (Chamberlain, a student of Fuller's, lives in his own dome in Laguna Beach.) In Culver City, a trio of shake-shingled dome homes bulge up in a neighborhood of conventional cottages. On Los Robles, a traditional Pasadena street, lurks one of the Bubble Houses designed by Wallace Neff, better known as a master of the Mediterranean Revival style. This dome, Neff's last residence, was built using airform construction--concrete sprayed over an inflated balloon. (Hidden under its front yard lies yet another dome: a bomb shelter, 12 feet in diameter, whose concrete interior shows the imprint of the inflated parachute fabric the concrete was sprayed over.) The FaithDome at 79th Street and Vermont Avenue, home of the Crenshaw Christian Center, is quite a bit larger--it can seat 10,000. But the big daddy of all our domes is the 130-foot-high former home of the Spruce Goose, now used as a sound stage, most recently for the upcoming "Batman & Robin."

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