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Getting geodesic with it at HUBweek

Geodesic domes, like these, will pop up on City Hall Plaza during HUBweek.
Geodesic domes, like these, will pop up on City Hall Plaza during HUBweek.Freedomes

Fall festivals are plentiful around the region, and one that’s sure to stand out is HUBweek, a celebration of the arts, science, and technology popping up on City Hall Plaza this October. In part that’s because the plaza will be adorned with not only dozens of shipping containers, but six large geodesic domes — the largest of which will be 45 feet tall with a 99-foot diameter.

Leonie Bradbury, director of art and creative initiatives for HUBweek, said she had always liked geodesic domes — the lattice-shelled structures popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller, which can house just about anything. So when the opportunity to use them in this year’s HUBweek arose, she jumped on it. The six-day long festival, cofounded by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will feature a wide array of artistic and musical attractions in and around the domes on the plaza, transformed for the occasion into ‘the Hub.’


Q. Where did you get the idea to use domes for this year’s HUBweek?

A. Last November, I went to an event at MIT that was sponsored by swissnex, which is the Swiss consulate for art and science in Cambridge, where I met their project leader for art and science programs, Cécile Vulliemin. We found out we had a shared passion for geodesic domes — I’m really into their history, in terms of architecture and hippie culture in the United States. She was looking for a venue to bring a dome project to the U.S. from Switzerland, and since swissnex is also about the intersection of art, science, and technology, it was the perfect alignment in terms of content.

Q. There are now six domes instead of the original plan for four. Why two more?


A. We were looking for additional space to host the Deep Dives [a series of interactive problem-solving events]. We priced out renting a space nearby versus adding another dome, and it just made sense both aesthically and for the experience of the attendees to add an additional space within the Hub. So that became the fifth dome. Lastly, after we’d booked the fourth dome, Freedomes [the Poland-based manufacturing company that creates the domes] reached out and said they were excited about the event and that they wanted to bring a new project of theirs, the HyperDome, to Boston for free to showcase that new technology.

Q. What’s special about the HyperDome?

A. The dome part has been elevated and put at a slight angle so you can have a seated audience. And then you can basically sit movie-theater style and look at the projection 360 degrees around you.

Q. What can guests expect City Hall Plaza to look like?

A. We’ve been working with an incredible team of architects and designers to help realize the master site plan for this. CBT Architects have worked alongside us since January, and we definitely couldn’t have done it without them. I think the experience is going to be like nothing most people have ever seen. There have been other events around the world with shipping containers and others with domes, but I think the combination of the two and the location — right on City Hall Plaza — it’s going to be pretty spectacular.



Various locations including City Hall Plaza, Oct. 10-15. www.hubweek.org

Kaitlyn Locke can be reached at kaitlyn.locke@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ke_locke.