"The structure was billed as the first large habitat for humans that would live and breathe on its own, as cut off from the earth as a spaceship," the New York Times wrote back in 1992, but the project was a near-instant failure.
Scientists ridiculed it. Members of the support team resigned, charging publicly that the enterprise was awash in deception. And even some crew members living under the glass domes, gaunt after considerable loss of weight, tempers flaring, this winter threatened to mutiny if management did not repair a growing blot on the project's reputation.
The entire site was sold to private developers in 2007, leaving the buildings still functional and open for tours but falling apart.
Talk about bioephemera! There's an interesting argument in the comment thread about whether or not Biosphere 2 actually is "falling apart," but as far as I'm concerned the metaphorical value of the photos makes it worth a look regardless. Thanks to reader Val for the heads-up - I love BldgBlog but let my attention lapse over the holidays, and wouldn't have found it without him!
Update: I'm told that the original BldgBlog post has pulled the photos, apparently at the request of Noah Sheldon, the photographer. Although I have not been contacted, I've proactively pulled them also, since it is my practice to respect artists' wishes about how their art is used online, even if it is only in order to promote and review their work.
Yeah, the Biosphere has had its ups and downs. Columbia University had it for a while. Now the UofA manages it. ( www.b2science.org )
FWIW from their website:
"Long ridiculed as a symbol of scientific self-indulgence run amok, the Biosphere 2 facility in Arizona is suddenly proving to be an important tool in understanding global climate change.
"Over the past 15 years, experiments conducted at Biosphere 2 by researchers from Columbia University and the University of Arizona have helped shape scientific understanding of how climate change will affect the planet. The story of the facility's evolution, however, is as entertaining as it is surprising."