The Domes

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     * Tactical Studies Rules (aka TSR) got threatened with a lawsuit for using hobbits, balrogs, ents and orcs in D&D. Thus halflings (which D&D used interchangeably with hobbits before the threat anyway), balors (the name of an unrelated mythic creature, but basically a balrog under a new name in D&D), treants and... well, "orc" dates way back, so they kept it anyway. Thus the very very funny "full of Public fucking Domain orcs" rant in Human Occupied Landfill, which may also be a spoof Gary Gygax's rants in Dragon magazine about Tolkien orcs versus D&D orcs. The estate of Tolkien has actually been pretty carefully guarding J.R.R.'s work for a long time now. ⁓'''["Users/JabberWokky" ʝ⍵]'''

Dome 7 fish.jpgInside a Dome

  1. Important News: Domes Condemned
  2. Location
  3. Which Dome is Which?
  4. Domes Facts
  5. How to Apply
  6. Domes Vision Statement
  7. Construction
  8. History
  9. Lifestyle
  10. Related pages
  11. Media

Baggins End
(South of Orchard Park Cir. at Orchard Park Dr.)
<domies AT ucdavis DOT edu>
How to apply
Contact applicant coordinators <>.
Domies on TV!
[WWW]Newswatch 2008

The Domes, (AKA Baggins End Innovative Housing), is an on-campus commune designed by Ron Swenson. Consisting of 14 polyurethane-insulated fiberglass domes located in the Sustainable Research Area at the western end of Orchard Road, it is home to 28 UCD students. It may very well be one of the oldest cooperative communities in the nation!

Important News: Domes Condemned

Dear alumni, friends, and allies,

Please join Baggins End, on Monday, February 21st, 2011, for a community/alumni/ally brainstorming session to discuss and ascertain the future of our community.
A potluck lunch will begin at noon, followed by a brainstorming session at 1PM in the community yurt. The ending time is open.

We hope to get everyone involved and seek your valuable input.

UCD Student Housing has announced that they will no longer be offering new leases for Domes residents. For more information, please see the letter from residents:
Letter from Domes Residents.pdf

Here is the proper link to the Dome Foam report that is referred to in the above letter (link in letter isn't working):

All 24 related documents from Student Housing:

Here is the letter from Student Housing making the decision to not renew leases official:
Letter from Student Housing Feb 1.pdf


For street directions, search "Baggins End" on [WWW]
WhereAreTheDomes.jpgThe Domes' location within Davis (one block west of the ARC at the far NW corner of campus): CloseupMap.jpgZooming in for a more detailed location

Which Dome is Which?

DomesNumbers.jpgNotice the Yurt in yellow near the middle. This is where most community dinners occur during the winter. Parking is on the right (to the east of the property).

Domes Facts

How to Apply

.jpg: Upload new file "domes_application.jpg" See below why we listed both of these.
.pdf: domes_application.pdf
Email your answers (pages #-#) to our applicant coordinators <> as .jpg or copy your answers directly into the body of the email. Email the last page to Faye Parata at <>.

Domes Vision Statement

As members of the Domes Community, we choose to promote and exemplify a lifestyle that incorporates the following:


Each of the 14 domes has a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and loft and can house two students. According to Ramona Pulido, who wrote an article about the domes last year, each dome was constructed of three to four inches of polyurethane foam surrounded by a fiberglass shell that serves to protect inhabitants from outside elements. The white exterior and thick insulation keeps them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Although this construction may sound exotic, it is quite similar to most small boat hulls built since the first half of the 20th century.


They were originally built on the Western edge of campus.

dome_june_2006.jpgA dome with the door open, 2006. gnome.jpgDome gnome.

The Domes opened in the fall of 1972. According to Doug Ryen, who oversaw the Domes for UC Davis for a number of years, the community was proposed in the 1960’s by a group of students who wanted to create less expensive housing options on campus. “A few different proposals were made by designers/builders for ways to accomplish this. Ultimately the dome style was chosen.”

“The buildings were constructed primarily by student volunteers under the direction of the contractor who proposed and designed the domes,” Ryen elaborated. There were to be 15, but the first dome collapsed during construction. The construction took about one year, and the students who volunteered their time and labor were the very first residents of what was to become the sustainable community of Baggins End.

[WWW]This is what the Domes looked like in the beginning. [WWW]Here are some photos of the birth of the domes.

The Domes Archives lived in Herb Hall (the storage shed) until 1997, when they were transferred to the UCD Library Special Collections. There were approximately 15 boxes of photos and historical documents transfer to the UCD Library at that time.



Dome.jpgView From Orchard Park Drive dome2.jpgChamomile dome3.jpgAnother Dome dome4.jpgInside the Greenhouse Unitrans_Domes.jpgUnitrans bus found next to the Domes inside_dome_2006.jpgInside a typical dome (2006). freerange.jpgFree range, of course.

Just south of Orchard Park, a little guy named Chamomile is leading a very good life. He's got a couple dozen friends who keep him company, and has the opportunity to eat quality vegetarian food every day. There is a flock of chickens to play with and a garden that Chamomile enjoys strutting around in. Chamomile is a long-time resident.

The residents of the Domes try to be as efficient with resources as possible. According to Amigo Cantisano, an Organic Agriculture Adviser and organic farmer, living sustainably involves “Minimizing pollution and causing the least amount of damage [to the earth] as possible; using local resources; growing your own food; eating food that is minimally processed; recycling; taking care of your health and your environment.”

In order for a community to achieve its goal of sustainability, it must work cooperatively. The Baggins End community is truly one of cooperation. Every second Sunday, the residents of the Domes gather to work together, usually in the gardens. Baggins End is part of the Student Housing Department and is owned by U.C. Davis. However, the residents do all of the work in the gardens and on the grounds.

The Domes are home to U.C. Davis students of varying backgrounds and majors. Justin Regnier, a graduate student in Transportation Technology and Policy, has lived at the Domes for nearly a year. According to Regnier, "Everyone does something. Gardening, pruning the trees, feeding the chickens-everyone contributes." Regnier believes that the Domes’ unique governing system is part of the appeal of the community. "The Domes are an experiment in sustainable living. We're self-governing, and all decisions are made by consensus. Communication and cooperation are important.”

In order to maintain their sustainable environment, residents of the Domes rely on consensus, a policy that requires compromise and communication. Members of the community are brought together to discuss an issue until a convergent decision is made. Rather than being a simple exercise in trading (I'll stop playing my music loud if you do your dishes), genuine consensus requires the development of relationships among members (we'll listen to music while we do the dishes together). New residents of the Domes go through non-violence and communication training, so that they will be better equipped to participate in the decision-making process. "The training teaches residents how to listen to others instead of how to make others listen," explained Regnier.

Because a very important aspect of any sustainable living community is the production of food, the residents of Baggins End are especially dedicated to their gardens. The Domes have an extensive organic garden that is maintained by both residents and members of the community. The garden consists of multiple areas designated for specific purposes, including an herb garden and greenhouse. An area called the DSA, or Domes Supported Agriculture, produces the bulk of the food grown in the community. Crops such as peas, garlic, onions, potatoes, eggplant and peppers are rotated year-round.

Rotating crops is a common practice in sustainable farming that offers huge benefits and results in higher yields. Cantisano explains that some plants require a lot of nutrients, called heavy-feeding plants, and can drain the soil of nitrogen in a short time. Legume plants, such as beans, peas, and clover, are low-feeding, and actually introduce nitrogen into the soil. Crop rotation prevents soil from becoming depleted of nutrients without having to use inorganic or chemical fertilizers.

The new greenhouse at the Domes, built by domies and friends, is another example of the community’s commitment to sustainability. As Regnier explained, the greenhouse is constructed so that the winter sun passes through the windows and hits a heat storing rear wall. The wall is constructed of rice straw and stucco, and retains heat. As the sun goes down, the rear wall emits heat, and keeps the greenhouse warm throughout the night. In the summer, the sun travels a different path in the sky, leaving the heat-retaining wall shaded. The greenhouse stays hot, but is able to cool during the evening.

In addition to caring for the gardens, the chickens and Chamomile the rooster, the Baggins End community provides assistance during the Whole Earth Festival and works with the Experimental College on coordinating garden space and resources for classes and courses. The community also offers “Informal networking and cooperation with the local agriculture community,” said Regnier.

While Baggins End is a residential area, members of the community are encouraged to visit the grounds and the people who live there. “We’re here and would like to see people,” explained Regnier.

Residents of the Domes prepare a community dinner Monday through Thursday nights every week, and take turns cooking the vegetarian and vegan meals. Many of the vegetables used are from the Domes’ organic garden. Visitors are encouraged to attend the potluck dinners, listed above.

The ubiquitous UC Davis printed map does an unbelievably bad job of showing the Domes on the map. [WWW]Here is an accurate map of the Domes

Related pages



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2008-04-12 14:02:48   Can anyone come to the potluck dinner? I've always wanted to meet the denizens of this wondrous community. —SunjeetBaadkar

2009-08-25 11:10:36   one time when i was really little me and my friend went over there and they let us pick their mulberries off their trees. there was this really nice girl, amie i think. and one time we were invited to have dinner. it was actually held outside and everyone brought homemade food to share. —hobojobo

2011-01-04 01:12:29   Urgent Alumni Reconnection! While both the domes and tri-coop communities are in danger in the short-term, our long-term future is looking increasingly grand ­ if we have your support!
Each One Reach One
Tell EVERY ALUMNI and CORE COMMUNITY MEMBER you know to get in touch with us! Politics are climaxing our short term/long term future! We need everyone and their mom to send us an email!
(It will be used very rarely to coordinate civic action as necessary)
Please let us know your full name and affiliation, and include any other contact info you'd like to share, level of interest for future involvement, resources you might offer, etc.
We'll also be sending out an invitation to receive our quarterly newsletter as we develop a non-profit alumni organization.

Alumni Fund Drive: Support Future Development
We're asking for alumni and our wider to community to pledge financial contribution for student-directed development at the Sustainable Research Area. Specifically, we are asking people to pledge up to $1000 (a future commitment) towards materials for the development of Domes 2.0 and the Tri-Coops renovations using student labor, provided that:
1. Students are collaboratively involved in the design and construction as part of their education.
2. The communities remain in habitation on or near the property during any construction or renovation.
3. The communities regain the privilege of managing their own budgets.
Conversely, if the existing communities are evicted before development or renovation of new facilities, we are asking alumni to pledge to give NO MONEY to UC Davis at any point in the future to communicate clearly the importance of these communities. There may come a time in the next few months where we will call upon you to contact the university with your pledge.
Basically: When Money Speaks the University Listens!
January 8th Alumni Potluck!
The time has come to think grand thoughts of our communities. Let's join together to eat nutritious, beautiful food and engage in dialogue about Domes 2.0 and Tri-Coops post ADA renovations.
There will be back massages...There will be nutritional yeast...
At 6:00pm, Ron Swenson (Domes designer) will be talking about the creation of the domes as a student educational endeavor in 1972 and we'll discuss the future together.
There will be synapses created and energy generated!
Bring a dish of something you love or just bring yourself! —EliseKane

2011-01-29 05:40:32   I knew a barber around town named Joseph Wright. He told me that he and a friend watched the domes being built. —BruceHansen

2011-02-01 17:47:59   I <3 the domes! I always have a place in my heart for unique living spaces. —Dozer

2011-02-02 23:14:50   URGENT NOTE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE DOMES, as sent to the Whole Earth Festival list-serv today:

Dear Alumni, Friends, and Family,

At a forum on Monday, January 24, 2011, UC Davis¹ Student Housing notified Baggins End residents that, at this point in time, no new leases will be offered. Essentially, without further action on our part (more below), by this August the Domes will be vacant.
The condensed version:

A Domie-initiated move to fix foam problems in Dome 10 led to Student Housing calling a series of thorough inspections of all structures, the results of which they have used to justify their decision to deny any new leases. Our response has been to prioritize which concerns are immediate issues and which concerns are less relevant to the short-term habitability. For the long term, we are working within a newly created Sustainable Living/Learning Task Force to develop a new vision for our community, involving new structures on our property. Right now, we need help from alumni to contact administration, initiate creative problem-solving, help us gain access to an electrician and an attorney, and to pledge donations for the building of new structures. See below for more detail on how we arrived at this situation and what to do about it.
The full version:

What led to this decision?

As you are already aware, the Domes are composed of a fiberglass shell with a polyurethane-based foam sprayed on the inside. The foam in 9 out of the 14 Domes is delaminating from the fiberglass shell and in need of repair. In particular, Dome 10 has the worst foam delamination. The smoke detector attached to the outer edge of the Dome opening is causing the foam at the ceiling of the loft to peel away from the fiberglass shell in such a way as to make it dangerous for a resident to live in the loft.
In the 2008-09 academic year, the community consensed to move forward with a project to repair the foam. One of the community members at that time was in dialogue with Central Coating Company, the company that did the original foam spraying in 1972. It seemed that the foam repairs would be fairly easy (do-able with student labor) and inexpensive, purchasing kits that would involve cutting out the damaged foam sections and spraying in new foam.

Residents consensed to approach Student Housing to request that the materials be paid for with funding from the reserves generated from the university-controlled budget.

However, Student Housing took the project over completely. Student Housing took the foam repair project to the bidding process, stating that this was a university policy for all moderate to major (re)construction projects. The university brought several companies
out to bid on the project, and none of which were qualified to do the repair work.

In spring 2010, Student Housing notified the Domes community that Dome 10 would be taken off-line until the repairs could be made. At that time the university had Mason Knowles do a comprehensive inspection of the foam in all the Domes for a fee of
$6575. Mason Knowles took core foam samples from each of the Domes. The findings from this foam report can be found here:
In summary, the report states that the foam in all of the Domes has decayed and needs to be replaced, and if done correctly the Domes could last another 40 years.

The university sent Mason Knowles's foam report to Central Coating where they submitted a bid on the project, estimating that it would cost $43,000 to replace the foam in each Dome. This does not include the cost of gutting each Dome, which Central Coating claims is necessary, in order to do the foam replacement. (Note: If students were able to stick to the original plan of cutting out the damaged foam near the Dome hole and re-spraying with an insulation kit, it would cost approximately $600 to repair the most damaged part of Dome 10.)

In July 2010 Student Housing proposed a comprehensive inspection of Dome 10, stating that the university did not want to spend $43,000 fixing the foam of Dome 10 if there were other things that needed to be repaired. Thus, Student Housing scheduled an inspection that included: Fire Department; Environmental, Health, and Safety (EH&S); and Design and Construction Management (DCM). The findings from these reports is that Dome 10 is considered ³substandard² and that immediate safety issues such as electrical need to be addressed before residents can move back in. These three reports can be found here:
After the comprehensive internal inspection, Student Housing asked an engineering professor to take a core sample of the fiberglass shell of Dome 10. This sample was tested and found to be in relatively good condition. This report can be found here:

Based on their findings in Dome 10, Student Housing decided to do a similar comprehensive interior inspection of the remaining 13 Domes. These inspections took place on three separate dates in November 2010. These findings can be found here:

Much like the Dome 10 inspection reports, the most immediate safety concern throughout are the electrical outlets internal to the base of the structures. This may be a relatively simple fix involving installing GFCI outlets. The problem at this point is that any ³substantial² renovation to the Domes (defined by the campus architect as something as simple as rewiring) would trigger compliance of not only all 2007 building code but also Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for our program:
Essentially the problems are numerous and interconnected. We are at the point where we need to address the electrical safety issues but doing so may require us to do a complete overhaul of the structures, which according to Housing¹s estimates would approach $1 million.
So what are we doing about it?
We¹ve lobbied to have the long-term future of the Baggins End property addressed via the Sustainable Living/Learning Taskforce chaired by Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Planning Bob Segar. For more information see the charge letter here:
This newly formed group includes administration, faculty and student residents from the Domes and the Co-ops and is charged with creating a new model for student research cooperatives. This planning process will involve coming up with a plan to build new structures at the Baggins End property in the next 3-4 years, thereby making many of Student Housing¹s longer-term concerns about the structures irrelevant. In addition to new structures, the Task Force is charged with coming up with a new vision for the program itself, which will likely institutionalize and formalize many of the educational benefits we have enjoyed at the Domes on an informal basis for the last 40 years. This planning/visioning process is just beginning, as their first meeting was last week, but we are excited by this prospect for our future.

This quarter Veronica Pardo, current Domes resident and Community Development graduate student, is co-teaching a course with Frank Loge (Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering) called Community Processes for Sustainability, focusing on institutionalizing the Sustainable Research Area (SRA).
Concerning ADA compliance, a group of Domies and Co-opers, in collaboration with the Cooperative Advisory Board (CAB), drafted this plan to counter the budget put forward by Housing:
Our long-term prospects look decent, thanks to the Sustainable Living/Learning Task Force, but it¹s the short-term that is more problematic. To deal with this, we are acting on many fronts and the details are changing daily. Following are some of the bigger themes.
We are in the process of writing by-laws for the incorporation of a SRA into a non-profit or possibly an Organized Research Unit (ORU), which is essentially an on-campus research-related non-profit, which would provide a management structure to extricate ourselves from Student Housing.
We are requesting an itemized reassessment of what in the inspection reports constitutes safety hazards that need to be dealt with immediately versus items that are ³substandard².
We are in contact with Mason Knowles regarding reassessment of the scope of re-foaming that would be necessary for continued habitation over the next 3-4 years, until existing structures are replaced with new ones. Additionally, we are contacting several other structural engineers for a second opinion on the safety of the current foam conditions.
We are in contact with Ron Swenson the original Project Manager for the construction of the domes regarding more creative (and cheaper) fixes for the foam.

What do we need from you?
We are reaching out to our pool of highly skilled and diverse alumni/concerned community members for help at this urgent time of need. Baggins End has always attracted the most unique and effective community members and the passion and skills of these alumni can help to ensure the continued existence of the Baggins End community. The effect of concerned alumni was obvious during the Long Range Development Plan meetings in 2000 in which concerned alumni wrote letters to the University and attended community land planning forums. No doubt, the voices of alumni are urgently needed now and can potentially affect the University planning process immeasurably, complementing the efforts of current students.
As the needs of the Baggins End community are varied and robust, so too are the skills, viewpoints, and talents of the Domes alumni, and everyone has a chance now to make their voice heard.
Potential Ways in Which Alumni/Concerned Community Members Can Help:

  1. Write a letter! Or send in a multimedia message of your choosing to University Administrators.

Linda Katehi, Chancellor:; (530) 752-2065
Fred Wood, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs:;
(530) 752-6866
We encourage you to be creative but concise/succinct in your message in order to effectively grab the attention of UC administrators. Let them know that you care about the continued existence of the Baggins End Community and perhaps how living at the domes affected your education/life.
Please feel free to include your vision for the future of the community and if inspired, talk about how your alumni contributions to the University may hinge on the fair treatment of current community members as well as the University¹s commitment to the vision and substance of the Baggins End community for the last 40 years.
One of the most unique aspects of the Domes community has always been the density of the cooperative, consensus-based housing. While there may be reasons to increase the density of housing on the property or to increase the footprint of the community in order to increase the number of potential community members, many people who have lived at the Domes and participated in meetings can appreciate that consensus appears to work best within certain limits and conditions for which the current layout of 14 discrete dwellings, each with 2 community members, appears perfect. The Domes have always been special within the co-op world for this unique setup of small private spaces surrounding and coming together to make a larger tribal whole. And any thoughts on how this unique and nurturing arrangement may have helped you to find your voice, be a better local/global community member, or succeed in your life/career are potentially very important right now.

  1. Are you a licensed electrician?

We would like to do our own independent assessment of current safety issues and affordable fixes. Please find contact information at the end of this letter to get in touch with us if you can help us with this.

  1. Are you an attorney and would like to donate some of your skills/time?

A legal advocate would be instrumental in helping to clarify the complicated relationship between the domes and student housing, SRA non-profit status, and ADA compatibility. Please find contact information at the end of this letter to get in touch with us if you can help us with this.

  1. Pledges

Additionally, we are in the process of creating a community-based nonprofit to which pledges can be made to fund the next generation of domes structures. Our message as current community members and alumni becomes far more powerful if we can match or produce funding to help shape our vision for the community. Please find contact information at the end of this letter if you are able to contribute a pledge. More information to follow.
Thank You! Together we can save the Domes!
In solidarity,
The 2010-11 Domes Community
Facebook group: The Domes Family

2011-02-03 09:55:22   I always wondered why it was called "Baggin's End" Obviously it is derived from the Lord of the Rings but in those books Bilbo Baggins' home was called "Bag End". —DagonJones

2011-02-04 12:16:39   Rik Keller Photography uploaded photos from the DomeRaiser event at the Delta of Venus on Friday Jan. 28 here: [WWW]

  • 1Dome 1 was a different design that didn't work, hence the lack of concrete pad where Dome 1 would have been.
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