A brush with Fuller

Buckminster Fuller's legacy is alive and well-and living in Queens.

DOME RAIDER Robert Moses helped repurpose the geodesic dome as a home for the zoo’s bird population.

DOME RAIDER Robert Moses helped repurpose the geodesic dome as a home for the zoo’s bird population.

This summer, eccentric innovator Buckminster Fuller is the subject of “Starting with the Universe,” an expansive retrospective at the Whitney. But if you want to see one of his futurist designs in situ, head to the Queens Zoo: The Flushing attraction’s aviary is housed in one of Fuller’s iconic geodesic domes. Designed for the 1964 World’s Fair, the dome—one of the largest single-layer structures of its time—was dismantled when the expo ended, but resurfaced as a postmodern birdcage when the zoo opened in 1968. (Fuller originally developed the hemispherical design, which covers a large volume using limited surface area, as a solution to the postwar housing crisis.) More than 20 native species, including pintail ducks, cattle egrets and cardinals—as well nonfeathered inhabitants like Spanky the porcupine—call the 175-foot-wide edifice home. Remodeled in 1993 by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the aviary features a series of steep walkways that allow visitors closer views of both its free-roaming inhabitants and Fuller’s man-made marvel.

The Queens Zoo is located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park.