The Climatron® is perhaps the most iconic and famed building at the Missouri Botanical Garden, noted as the first geodesic dome to be used as a greenhouse when constructed in 1960. To mark the monument`s 50th anniversary in 2010, the Garden has released a new full-color souvenir book, Missouri Botanical Garden Climatron: A Celebration of 50 Years. The 108 page paperback contains over a dozen three-dimensional images by noted “3 D” photographer David E. Klutho, along with rarely-before-seen archival images and contemporary photography.
The Climatron was named one of the 100 most significant architectural achievements in U.S. history by the U.S. Bicentennial Commission of Architects. The free-standing structure, designed by St. Louis architects Murphy and Mackey, incorporates the principles of R. Buckminster Fuller, who patented the geodesic dome design. The Climatron rises 70 feet in the center with no interior support, allowing generous light and space for the 24,000 square feet (more than half an acre) of tropical rain forest plants within—an increasing number of which are endangered in the wild.
The experience of setting foot in the conservatory is one of “immersion, sensory abandon, submission to an almost primeval overload of plants, smells, and humidity…a fantasy of what nature might have once been, a sensual engulfment…” said Robert Riley, Harvard Design Magazine, upon visiting the Climatron. More than 2,800 plants grow inside the conservatory, where temperatures range from 64-degrees Fahrenheit at night to a high of 85-degrees during the day. The term “Climatron,” from the Greek words for “climate” and “machine,” was coined to emphasize the climate-control technology of the greenhouse dome.
Missouri Botanical Garden Climatron: A Celebration of 50 Years includes a foreword by Dr. Peter H. Raven, Garden president, and is authored by Eric Mumford, Washington University School of Architecture professor. Elizabeth McNulty, St. Louis Then and Now author, is a contributing writer. Archival photos convey the story of the plans, people, art, architecture and engineering that went into the iconic structure, while contemporary pictures provide a glimpse of the Climatron as enjoyed today. A special section of three-dimensional images brings the conservatory to life when viewed through the “3-D” glasses included in each book.
“The Climatron is not only one of the most famous icons in St. Louis, but among the most important architectural achievements in America,” said Eric Mumford, author. “It is a gem of mid century modern design.”
“This book will appeal to everyone, from armchair historians and supporters of the Missouri Botanical Garden, to architecture buffs and photography fans. Kids of all ages will love the 3-D photography section,” added Elizabeth McNulty, contributing writer.