Why haven't geodesic domes succeeded in the past?

There's no single reason why geodesic domes haven't succeeded yet. On a macro level we've recognized three sets of problems that previous generation failed to solve: Technology, design & business.

Technology. The original geodesic dome movement in the 1950s and 1960s ran into many technology problems it wasn't able to solve at the time. The worst limitation was it had to do without sophisticated computer technology prevalent today. This is especially true in terms of CAD/CAM software and structural analysis as it is for manufacturing and automation.

Design. One cannot design sphere with a mindset of designing box. Yet that is how geodesic domes were often approached. It is really hard for designers, architects and engineers to break away from all the ways it have been done and imagine how it could be. It's true for every part of the design process from spatial disposition to furniture or wiring.

Business. Commercial success has a lot to do with timing and salesmanship. Unfortunately geodesic domes in the 1960s were product not good enough, had bad reputation, and its green qualities undervalued.

Are there any geodesic domes already built?

It is estimated between 50 000 – 300 000 geodesic domes have been built since the 1950s. The geodesics have enjoyed a wide range of use from greenhouses, industrial halls, roof construction to housing or even playgrounds. It is one of the most versatile structures in the world.