Charas : The improbable dome builders

Syeus Mottel


Edition : First / New York / Drake / 1973 / Hardcover. / VG+ / VG+
4to, 193pp. Printed wraps as issued. Numerous Black & White plates. Text in English.

Fascinating book documenting a project that ran in Lower East Side in the sixties and seventies. “In 1970 a meeting took place in an empty loft on the Lower East Side of Manhattan between R. Buckminster Fuller, the revolutionary architect and inventor of the geodesic dome, and six ex-gang members who called themselves “CHARAS.” After a few hours, they found themselves having an earnest and important conversation, and the young men of CHARAS decided to begin implementing Bucky’s ideas. They wanted to create a program that would develop a sense of community autonomy, reclaim public space and give their lives a newfound sense of purpose. Following a period of intensive study of solid geometry, spherical trigonometry and principles of dome building, all led by Michael Ben-Eli, CHARAS constructed a geodesic dome on a vacant lot in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge.” Charas themselves, and seventies community projects in manhattan are way deeper and more interesting than this book implies, but it is an excellent part of the story, and is at least a first hand account of the times.