Harvest Dome 3.0

Harvest Dome 3.0

SLO Architecture
Grand Rapids, MI, USA | View Map
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TJ Mathieu

Harvest Dome 3.0

SLO Architecture as Architects

Harvest Dome 3.0 celebrates the riparian heritage of Grand Rapids with a floating dome of local materials harvested from Grand River industry. A 20-foot-diameter orb, constructed from brightly colored surplus seat-belts and studded with rearview mirrors, set atop a ring of 128 repurposed two-liter soda bottles, the buoyant dome is an in gathering of the city’s legacy of manufacturing. While the river's energy propelled Grand Rapids to become a center for logging, furniture fabrication, and automotive industries, the possibility of the river also engendered changes to landscape ecology, leading to flooding and contamination. The transcendent abstract form of Harvest Dome 3.0 emerges from a flotsam of accumulated materials, its bright blue seatbelt lines and sky-and-water-reflecting rearview mirrors shimmering like a bubble coming up from the surging rapids, transfiguring the river's power and possibility.


Designed to float out on the Grand River, Harvest Dome 3.0 reclaims our waterways as ecologies of common space. In spring, the Grand River overflows its banks in downtown Grand Rapids, inundating Ah-Nab-Awen Park. Anglers wade into the rapids to fish throughout summer and early fall, when river flow calms. We planned to install Harvest Dome 3.0 to float out on the river at the end of August, but the Grand River had its own ideas. In the days leading up to launch, upstream rains caused a surprise surge. As the crane operator readied to hoist the dome, we realized that the launch would be too dangerous amid waters rushing at over four thousand cubic feet per second. Calling off the first attempt, we watched the real-time USGS River Data charts over the next two weeks. From the Grand Rapids Whitewater Group, we learned that flow over three thousand cubic feet per second would be hazardous for waders. Approaching a second launch attempt in mid-September, we followed real-time data by the hour. The river began to ebb: with no rain for over a week, flow dropped to 3,000 cf/s just as we were putting on our life jackets. By navigating these urban waters, we discover the wild that courses through our built environment. With mud and detritus, tides and currents, anglers and swimmers, life along the river reveals thresholds between architecture and nature, linking people through collaborative performance.

Materials Used:

2 Liter Bottles: donated by Schupan Beverage Recycling, Wyoming, MI

Rearview Mirrors: Weller Self Serve, Wyoming, MI

Surplus Seatbelts: Louis A Green, North Adams, MA

Marine Grade Plywood

Metal Pipe

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