2009-10 Photos - Deconstructing the Dome

Preliminaries and Skylab

Actually, it seems that the preliminary work involving the dome demo had been underway for a number of years before the actual deconstruction began, as it was part of the project. The first significant on-site effort was in February 2005, a few days after I arrived for my second winter, in 2005, as the Title II inspector. A mixed team showed up to evaluate the feasibility of removing and reusing the dome...

T-event to investigate removal and reuse of the dome

The visitors included Seabee representative SWC Jose Torres; and Lee Mattis, who was the Temcor on-site technical representative for the dome erection. He also showed up in 1989-90 to help us repair the broken dome base ring. This November 2009 New York Times article, for which Lee Mattis and myself were interviewed, discusses the dome deconstruction project.

In our group photo above from left: Bill Johnson (2005 winter construction supervisor), Dave Scheuerman, Jerry Marty, and Jose Torres, with Lee Mattis in the front. I was taking the photo...after which we removed one of the dome node plates in front of the group, as a symbolic beginning to the deconstruction.

Between 2005 and 2009 there had been various plans made for the dome removal. It had a low priority because it could be postponed until the rest of the elevated station was complete--thus allowing it to be used for storage until the logistics arch and building were completed. One continuing idea was to have a group of Seabees assist with the deconstruction; this was the reason for Jose Torres' visit in February 2005. But the bureaucratic difficulties in arranging for a Navy construction presence, combined with the continuing schedule uncertainty, ultimately ruled this out. Another consideration was the future use of the dome. While this project was being considered, plans were underway for construction of a new Seabee Museum outside the gates of the Port Hueneme base. At one time there was consideration given for erecting the entire dome as part of the museum, but this didn't really fit into the museum's plans...not to mention the fact that the City of Oxnard wasn't all that excited about having a big geodesic dome on the skyline. And then there's the fact that the dome as constructed was not waterproof, and it can be fairly rainy in Oxnard during the winter.

The almost-final plan for the dome demolition was to shred the aluminum on site so that it could be shipped north compactly to be turned in to beer and soda cans or whatever. Accordingly a large mobile shredder was purchased and shipped south in 2009. But...the shredder was never put to that use. Instead, the determination was made by supervisor Steve Bruce that it would be faster, easier, and safer (a significant factor) to disassemble the dome in significant sections, take it apart by removing the fasteners, and ship it north in its original components for possible future use. So...that is what would happen.

open door policy
One of the first tasks--removing the rest of the entrance and the temporary doors (EG).
no more 300 watt bulbs
Inside, all of the remaining electrical, lights etc., was removed. The last food pull from the dome was a massive effort held during Thanksgiving week (EG).
digging up the past
Everything around the dome perimeter and Skylab was excavated, including the original tunnel from the dome to skylab and the escape/comms tunnel that we installed in 1989- 90 when we dug out the dome to fix the foundations and moved the comms cables. The first floor of Skylab (that isn't red here) didn't exist in 1977, we used to walk straight out there on the surface to head to the Clean Air building (AM).
tunnel away
Here the tunnels are mostly gone, all except the crossing we built in 1989-90 for the comms tunnel...the last time the dome base ring was totally dug out, for structural repairs. (AM).
out with it

Here the rest of the tunnel crossing has been removed (EG).
ladder days

Next, the ladder gets yanked off (FB).
open plan
Removing the roof and walls of Skylab itself (FB).
tear down the walls
Here goes the south wall of the fourth floor (FB).
going down
The first of several views from the galley windows in mid-December. Here the third floor is going away (EG).
Gary was here
The third floor is gone, here goes the second floor (EG).
little pieces
A bit more is gone, and some of the pieces are visible (GT).
gone gone gone
And then there was nothing left (EG).

Yes, the dome is next. continue here...credits are on the last photo page.

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