Proposals for 360' projection space, 1982,1987
In 1972 Dr. Arthur Loeb took his Harvard Design Science seminar on a field trip to the Mapparium in downtown Boston. Built between 1932 and 1935, the Mapparium is a stained glass spherical world map, over thirty feet in diameter, offering a unique, 360' view of the earth.
This was a revelation. Standing within the sphere, on a bridge situated just below the equator, I felt that I had a sense, for the first time, of the relationships between continents, of the ratio between land and sea. Although I knew what was wrong with maps intellectually, this was the first time that I understood viscerally what was lost in the translation from 3D to 2D. The experience introduced the power of inversions; in order to view the map correctly from the inside, it was actually inside-out (both of the above illustrations are from within the sphere and thus appear to be oriented correctly.) Dr. Loeb, a colleague of Buckminster Fuller's also introduced us to the Geoscope, Fuller's plan in 1962 for a "giant, 200-foot diameter... miniature earth -- the most accurate global representation of our planet ever to be realized."
At the same time, I was friendly with a flight instructor who bemoaned the poor state of weather maps, static 2D maps with isobars and arrows couldn't begin to represent the dynamic complexity of world weather patterns. This was decades before weather satellite data appeared on television; weathermen at the time stood in front of giant maps and made lurching gestures with their hand mimicking static arrows to indicate the movement and direction of weather systems. It was grossly inadequate for both pilot and poet.
1982 Weatherium Proposal
Thus, the idea for a Weatherium. The space was conceived as a projection volume, dedicated to weather satellite data, to be viewed both internally and externally. Easier said than done: satellite data is 2D and has to be geometrically recalculated for projection back onto a sphere; giant projection spaces require giant venues, it was a bit before its time. (Many years later I came across Tom Van Sant's Geosphere Project, a decades-long effort to knit together an accurate, and cloudless, view of the earth from satellite imagery to make a stunning series of globes and maps.) I teamed up first with artist and architect Jay Mark Johnson, and we made a series of proposals for the 1984 World's Fair to be held in New Orleans. The building, as proposed, consisted of four major elements: the sphere, a circular reflecting pool base, a vertical circulation block and the cul-de-sac shaped runways.
Weatherium: Site Plans, Jay M. Johnson, 1982
1987 Weatherium Proposal
The Weatherium went through several incarnations, this was a proposal for an interior black box theater. These drawings depict a dodecahedron structure: twelve pentagonal handing screens paired with twelve interlocked video projectors.
Weatherium drawings, Richard Hollander & Peggy Weil, 1987