Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Dome at Walla Walla Community College

"Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?" Buckminster Fuller’s development of the geodesic dome was in part an answer to his own question. Fuller loved the geodesic structure because of its stability and utility. Pound per pound a dome can enclose more space than any other structure.

Famous geodesic structures include the Montreal Biosphere, The Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World and, of course, The Dietrich Activity Center dome at Walla Walla Community College.

WWCC’s dome is a landmark in southeast Washington. Gary Boone, WWCC’s Purchasing Agent was here in 1977 for the Dome’s dedication. He says, “What impressed me at the time was the fact that the wooden floor of the basketball court was built on top of a rubber pad. It was a pretty cool structure. Just to walk in and look up at the ceiling still impresses me. Thirty years later it still seems futuristic.”

Jim Peterson, Vice President of Administrative Services says, “It was a fascinating project to watch it go up. First, the general contractor built a giant concrete ring and then put a huge pole in the center of it. Workers placed the top panel on the pole and then added the struts and the gold anodized panels around the center. When they completed that layer of the circle they jacked up the pole and added another section of panels. Over the period of a couple of weeks we literally got to watch the dome rise up from the ground. It was exciting.”

Tana Renz, sophomore member of the WWCC’s Soccer team says, “When I came here the Dome was the first thing that attracted me. It was so bright.” The Dome serves as the hub of WWCC athletics. Tana says, “It’s where I go. It’s where I work out. It’s where everyone is. The Dome brings everyone together.”

Kendall Brenton, a 2005-2007 basketball player and WWCC Honors Scholar sums it up nicely, “Bees have a honeycomb. We have the Dome. It’s our home.”

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