Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Geodesics Could Be Domes of Future

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Geodesics Could Be Domes of Future

Article excerpt

By Alice Kahn

San Francisco Chronicle

They're trendy. They're chic. They're dome houses?

Is this some '60s retro kind of thing _ the bell-bottoms of the housing world _ or are the creators of "Northern Exposure" onto something?

This season, the socially savvy series introduced a new character named Mike Monroe, who is allergic to everything unnatural. Unlike most of the fictional inhabitants of Cicely, Alaska, who live in woody, funky houses, Monroe lives in a state-of-the-art geodesic dome home.

Since the program catapulted the lodge look into a sought-after home style, expect this latest design statement to lead others to go geodesic.

The producers say Monroe's futuristic dome provides a metaphor for the '90s, an era that promises to synthesize the divergent trends of the folksy '60s and slick '80s.

"Monroe was a corporate mainstream personality whose illness forced him to this exotic hippie-reminiscent, bohemian thing," said Jeff Melvoin, a supervising producer on "Northern Exposure."

"It's an interesting statement on how various trends in society are coalescing toward the middle, and it's a nice kind of middle."

The dome house used on "Northern Exposure" was purchased from Timberline Geodesics of Berkeley, Calif., which has sold fully contained dome kits for 20 years.

Robert Singer, Timberline's president, said, "Geodesic domes have come a long way since the 1960s, so we're very excited to be reemerging into popular culture."

Prized for their energy efficiency, structural integrity and ability to withstand disasters from earthquakes to typhoons, domes are gaining new popularity as second homes in the United States and primary homes in places as divergent as Japan and the former Soviet Union, where expensive building materials make importing dome kits from the United States a relatively good deal. …

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