Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller

Infobox Person
name = R. Buckminster Fuller

image_size = 200px
caption = R. Buckminster Fuller c.1917
birth_date = birth date|1895|07|12
birth_place = Milton, Massachusetts
death_date = death date and age|1983|7|1|1895|07|12|mf=y
death_place = Los Angeles, California, U.S.
occupation = Visionary, designer, architect, author, inventor
spouse = Anne Fuller
parents =
children = 2

Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) [cite web |url=http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9365050 |title=Fuller, R Buckminster |publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica Online |author=Encyclopædia Britannica. |date=2007 |accessdate=2007-04-20] was an American architect, author, designer, futurist, inventor, and visionary. He was the second president of Mensa. [Serebriakoff, Victor. "The Odd Way Mensa Began." (as linked to Western Pennsylvania Mensa website) [http://wheel.dcn.davis.ca.us/~sander/mensa/serebr1.html] ] He lends his name to a family of complex carbon structures called Buckminsterfullerene also known as Bucky Balls.

Throughout his life, Fuller was concerned with the question "Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?"Fact|date=June 2008 Considering himself an average individual without special monetary means or academic degree, [cite book |last=Fuller |first=R. Buckminster |pages=p. 124 |title=Critical Path |location=New York |publisher=St. Martin's Griffin |year=1981 |isbn=0312174918] he chose to devote his life to this question, trying to identify what he, as an individual, could do to improve humanity's condition, which large organizations, governments, and private enterprises inherently could not do.

Pursuing this lifelong experiment, Fuller wrote more than thirty books, coining and popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetics. He also worked in the development of numerous inventions, chiefly in the fields of design and architecture, the best known of which is the geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes or buckyballs were named for their resemblance to geodesic spheres.

Late in his life, after working on his concepts for several decades, Fuller achieved considerable public visibility. He travelled the world giving lectures, and received numerous honorary doctorates. Most of his inventions, however, never made it into production. Often dismissed as a hopeless utopian, he was strongly criticized in most fields he tried to influence, including architectureFact|date=June 2008. His proponents, on the other hand, continue to assert that his work has not yet received the attention that it deserves.


Fuller was born on July 12, 1895, in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Buckminster Fuller and Caroline Wolcott Andrews, and also the grandnephew of the American Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller. He attended Froebelian Kindergarten. Spending his youth on Bear Island, in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine, he was a boy with a natural propensity for design and construction. He often made things from materials he brought home from the woods, and sometimes made his own tools. He experimented with designing a new apparatus for human propulsion of small boats. Years later, he decided that this sort of experience had provided him with not only an interest in design, but a habit of being fully familiar and knowledgeable about the materials that his later projects would require. Fuller earned a machinist's certification, and knew how to use the press brake, stretch press, and other tools and equipment used in the sheet metal trade.cite book |last=Pawley |first=Martin |coauthors= |title=Buckminster Fuller |location=New York |publisher=Taplinger |year=1991 |isbn=0-8008-1116-X]

Fuller was sent to Milton Academy, in Massachusetts, and then began studying at Harvard, but was expelled from the university twice: first for entertaining an entire dance troupe, and then, after having been readmitted, for his "irresponsibility and lack of interest". By his own appraisal, he was a non-conforming misfit in the fraternity environment. Many years later, however, he would receive a Sc.D. from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Between his sessions at Harvard, Fuller worked in Canada as a mechanic in a textile mill, and later as a labourer in the meat-packing industry. He also served in the U.S. Navy in World War I, as a shipboard radio operator, as an editor of a publication, and as a crash-boat commander. After discharge, he returned to the meat packing industry, where he acquired management experience. In 1917, he married Anne Hewlett. In the early 1920s, he and his father-in-law developed the Stockade Building System for producing light-weight, weatherproof, and fireproof housing – although the company would ultimately fail.In 1927, at the age of 32, bankrupt and jobless, living in inferior housing in Chicago, Illinois, Fuller lost his young daughter Alexandra to complications from polio and spinal meningitis. He felt responsible, and this drove him to drink and to the verge of suicide. At the last moment, he decided instead to embark on "an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity". [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/automobiles/collectibles/15BUCKY.html?pagewanted=print Design – A Three-Wheel Dream That Died at Takeoff – Buckminster Fuller and the Dymaxion Car – NYTimes.com] ]

By 1928, Fuller was living in Greenwich Village and spending a lot of time at Romany Marie'scite web |url= http://www.haberarts.com/fuller.htm |title= Before Buckyballs |author= John Haber |publisher= Review of Noguchi Museum "Best of Friends" exhibit (May 19 - October 15 2006) |quote= Noguchi, then twenty-five, had already had enough influences for a lifetime – from birth in Los Angeles, to childhood in Japan and the Midwest, to premedical classes at Columbia, to academic sculpture on the Lower East Side, to Brancusi's circle in Paris. Now his exposure to Modernism and "the American century" received a decidedly New York twist.
“Only two years before, on the brink of suicide, Fuller had decided to remake his life and the world. Why not begin on Minetta Street? In 1929, he was shopping around his first major design, plans for an inexpensive, modular home that others air-lift right where desired. Now, in exchange for meals, he took on the interior decoration and chairs for Marie's new location. He must have stood out in person, too, ever the talkative, handsome visionary in tie and starched collar.

See also: cite web |url= http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/19/arts/design/19nogu.html |title= The Architect and the Sculptor: A Friendship of Ideas |publisher= Grace Glueck, "The New York Times" |date= May 19 2006 ] , where he had spent a fascinating evening in conversation with Marie and Eugene O'Neill several years earlier.Lloyd Steven Sieden. "Buckminster Fuller's Universe: His Life and Work" (pp. 74, 119-142). New York: Perseus Books Group, 2000. ISBN 0-73820-379-3. p. 74: “Although O'Neill soon became well known as a major American playwright, it was Romany Marie who would significantly influence Bucky, becoming his close friend and confidante during the most difficult years of his life.”] Fuller took on the interior decoration of the café in exchange for meals, giving informal lectures several times a week,cite web |url= http://www.kgbbar.com/lit/features/buckminster_ful.html |title= Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi |author= John Haskell |work= Kraine Gallery Bar Lit, Fall 2007 |quote= ] and models of the Dymaxion house were exhibited at the café. Isamu Noguchi appeared on the scene in 1929 –Constantin Brâncuşi, an old friend of Marie's, Robert Schulman. "Romany Marie: The Queen of Greenwich Village" (pp. 85–86, 109–110). Louisville: Butler Books, 2006. ISBN 1-88453-274-8. ] had directed him there – and Noguchi and Fuller were soon collaborating on several projects,cite web |url= http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/tranSCRIPTs/noguch73.htm |title= Interview with Isamu Noguchi |publisher= Conducted November 7 1973 by Paul Cummings at Noguchi's studio in Long Island City, Queens. Smithsonian Archives of American Art ] including the modelling of the Dymaxion car.cite web |url= http://shl.stanford.edu/Bucky/dymaxion/noguchi.htm |title= Passenger Files: Isamo Noguchi, 1904–1988 |author= Michael John Gorman |work= Towards a cultural history of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Car |publisher= Stanford Humanities Lab |date= updated March 12 2002 Includes several images. ] It was the beginning of their lifelong friendship.

Fuller taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina during the summers of 1948 and 1949,cite web |url= http://blackmountaincollege.org/content/view/45/60/ |title= IDEAS + INVENTIONS: Buckminster Fuller and Black Mountain College |work= Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center Exhibit |date= July 15 - November 26 2005 |quote= ] serving as its Summer Institute director in 1949. There, with the support of a group of professors and students, he began work on the project that would make him famous and revolutionize the field of engineering: the geodesic dome. One of the early models was first constructed in 1945 at Bennington College in Vermont, where he frequently lectured. In 1949, he erected the world’s first geodesic dome building that could sustain its own weight with no practical limits. It was 4.3 meters (14 ft) in diameter and constructed of aluminium aircraft tubing and a vinyl-plastic skin, in the form of a tetrahedron. To prove his design, and to awe non-believers, Fuller hung from the structure’s framework with several students who had helped him build it. The U.S. government recognized the importance of the discovery, and employed him to make small domes for the army. Within a few years there were thousands of these domes around the world.

For the next half-century, Fuller contributed a wide range of ideas, designs and inventions to the world, particularly in the areas of practical, inexpensive shelter and transportation. He documented his life, philosophy and ideas scrupulously in a daily diary (later called the "Dymaxion Chronofile"), and in twenty-eight publications. Fuller financed some of his experiments with inherited funds, sometimes augmented by funds invested by his collaborators, one example being the Dymaxion Car project.

International recognition came with the success of his huge geodesic domes in the 1950s. Fuller taught at Washington University in St. Louis in 1955, where he met James Fitzgibbon, who would become a close friend and colleague. From 1959 to 1970, Fuller taught at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Beginning as an assistant professor, he gained full professorship in 1968, in the School of Art and Design. Working as a designer, scientist, developer, and writer, he lectured for many years around the world. he collaborated at SIU with the designer John McHale. In 1965 Fuller inaugurated the World Design Science Decade (1965 to 1975) at the meeting of the International Union of Architects in Paris, which was, in his own words, devoted to "applying the principles of science to solving the problems of humanity".

Fuller believed human societies would soon rely mainly on renewable sources of energy, such as solar- and wind-derived electricity. He hoped for an age of "omni-successful education and sustenance of all humanity".

Fuller was awarded 28 US patents [ [http://www.google.com/patents?as_drrb_
] and many honorary doctorates. On January 16, 1970, he received the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects, and also received numerous other awards.

Richard Buckminster Fuller died on July 1, 1983, at the age of 87, a guru of the design, architecture, and 'alternative' communities, such as Drop City, the community of experimental artists to whom he awarded the 1966 "Dymaxion Award" for "poetically economic" domed living structures. In the period leading up to his death, his wife had been lying comatose in a Los Angeles hospital, dying of cancer. It was while visiting her there that he exclaimed, at a certain point: "She is squeezing my hand!" He then stood up, suffered a heart attack and died an hour later. His wife died 36 hours after he did. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Philosophy and worldview

The grandson of a Unitarian minister (Arthur Buckminster Fuller), [ [http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/arthurbuckminsterfuller.html Arthur Buckminster Fuller] ] R. Buckminster Fuller was also Unitarian. [ [http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/fuller.html Buckminster Fuller: Designer of a New World] ] Buckminster Fuller was an early environmental activist. He was very aware of the finite resources the planet has to offer, and promoted a principle that he termed "ephemeralization", which, in essence – according to futurist and Fuller disciple Stewart Brand – Fuller coined to mean "doing more with less". [cite book |last=Brand |first=Stewart |title=The Clock of the Long Now |location=New York |publisher=Basic |year=1999 |isbn=046504512X] Resources and waste material from cruder products could be recycled into making higher-value products, increasing the efficiency of the entire process. Fuller also introduced synergetics, a metaphoric language for communicating experiences using geometric concepts, long before the term synergy became popular.

Buckminster Fuller was one of the first to propagate a systemic worldview, and he explored principles of energy and material efficiency in the fields of architecture, engineering and design. [cite book |last=Fuller |first=R. Buckminster |coauthors= |title=Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth |location=Carbondale, IL |publisher=Southern Illinois University Press |year=1969 |isbn=080932461X] [cite book |last=Fuller |first=R. Buckminster |coauthors=Applewhite, E. J. |title=Synergetics |location=New York |publisher=Macmillan |year=1975 |isbn=002541870X] He cited François de Chardenedes' view that petroleum, from the standpoint of its replacement cost out of our current energy "budget" (essentially, the net incoming solar flux), had cost nature "over a million dollars" per U.S. gallon (US$300,000 per litre) to produce. From this point of view, its use as a transportation fuel by people commuting to work represents a huge net loss compared to their earnings. [cite book |last=Fuller |first=R. Buckminster |pages=pp. xxxiv-xxxv |title=Critical Path |location=New York |publisher=St. Martin's Press |year=1981 |isbn=0312174888]

Fuller was concerned about sustainability and about human survival under the existing socio-economic system, yet remained optimistic about humanity's future. Defining wealth in terms of knowledge, as the "technological ability to protect, nurture, support, and accommodate all growth needs of life," his analysis of the condition of "Spaceship Earth" led him to conclude that at a certain time in the 1970s, humanity had marked an unprecedented watershed. He was convinced that the accumulation of relevant knowledge, combined with the quantities of key recyclable resources that had already been extracted from the earth, had reached a critical level, such that competition for necessities was no longer necessary. Cooperation had become the optimum survival strategy. "Selfishness," he declared, "is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable.... War is obsolete." [cite book |last= Fuller |first= R. Buckminster |pages= p. xxv |chapter= Introduction |title= Critical Path |edition= First Edition |year= 1981 |location= New York, N.Y. |publisher= St.Martin's Press |language= English |isbn= 0-312-17488-8|quote= "It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable as mandated by survival. War is obsolete.]

Fuller also claimed that the natural analytic geometry of the universe was based on arrays of tetrahedra. He developed this in several ways, from the close-packing of spheres and the number of compressive or tensile members required to stabilize an object in space. One confirming result was that the strongest possible homogeneous truss is cyclically tetrahedral.Fact|date=May 2007

His technologically oriented point of view can also be taken as a metaphor for what it is to be human generally. In his 1970 book "I Seem To Be a Verb", he wrote: "I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe."

Major design projects

Fuller was most famous for his lattice shell structures - geodesic domes, which can be seen as part of military radar stations, civic buildings, environmental protest camps and exhibition attractions. Walther Bauersfeld was in all probability the source of this concept. In Chapter 3 of Buckminster Fuller's Book 'CRITICAL PATH' he writes:-

"....I found a similar situation to be existent in World War II. As head mechanical engineer of the U.S.A. Board of Economic Warfare I had available to me copies of any so-called intercepts I wanted. Those were transcriptions of censor-listened-to intercontinental telephone conversations, along with letters and cables that were opened by the censor and often deciphered, and so forth. As a student of patents I asked for and received all the intercept information relating to strategic patents held by both our enemies and our own big corporations,..."

Supporting this view, an examination of the design by Dr. Walther Bauersfeld's geodesic design for the Zeiss Planetarium, reveals that it is an exact duplicate of Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome PatentFact|date=August 2008.

Their construction is based on extending some basic principles to build simple tensegrity structures (tetrahedron, octahedron, and the closest packing of spheres), making them lightweight and stable. The patent for geodesic domes was awarded in 1954, part of Fuller's exploration of nature's constructing principles to find design solutions. The Fuller Dome is referenced in the Hugo Award winning novel Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, where a geodesic dome is said to cover the entire island of Manhattan, but, due to hot-air balloon effect of the large air-mass under the dome, (and perhaps its construction of lightweight materials), it floats on air. [ [http://www.cjfearnley.com/fuller-faq-4.html#ss4.1 The R. Buckminster Fuller FAQ: Geodesic Domes ] ]

Previously, Fuller had designed and built prototypes of what he hoped would be a safer, aerodynamic Dymaxion car ("Dymaxion" is contracted from DYnamic MAXimum tensION, however it has also been reported that the name is a combination of the words dynamic, maximum, and ion, per the [http://www.automuseum.org/NAM_collections_dymaxion2.shtml National Automobile Museum] .) He worked with professional colleagues over a period of three years beginning in 1932. Based on a design idea Fuller had derived from aircraft, the three prototype cars were different from anything on the market. They had three wheels, with two (the drive wheels) in front, and the third, rear wheel being the one that was steered. The engine was in the rear, with the chassis and the body being original designs. The aerodynamic, somewhat tear-shaped body (which in one of the prototypes was about convert|18|ft|m long), was large enough to seat 11 people. It resembled a melding of a light aircraft (without wings) and a Volkswagen van of 1950s vintage. The car was essentially a mini-bus in each of its three trial incarnations, and its concept long predated the Volkswagen Type 2 mini-bus conceived in 1947 by Ben Pon.

Despite its length, and due to its three-wheel design, the Dymaxion Car turned on a small radius and parked in a tight space quite nicely. The prototypes were efficient in fuel consumption for their day. Fuller poured a great deal of his own money into the project, in addition to funds from one of his professional collaborators. An industrial investor was also keenly interested in the concept. Fuller anticipated the car could travel on an open highway safely at up to about 160 km/h (100 miles per hour). Due to some concept oversights, they were unruly above 80 km/h (50 mph), and difficult to steer. Research ended after one of the prototypes was involved in a collision resulting in a fatality.

In 1943, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser asked Fuller to develop a prototype for a smaller car, and Fuller designed a five-seater which never went beyond development.

Another of Fuller's ideas was the alternative-projection Dymaxion map. This was designed to show the Earth's continents with minimum distortion when projected or printed on a flat surface.

Fuller's energy-efficient and low-cost Dymaxion House garnered much interest, but has never gone into production. Here the term "Dymaxion" is used in effect to signify a "radically strong and light tensegrity structure". One of Fuller's Dymaxion Houses is on display as a permanent exhibit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. Designed and developed in the mid-1940s, this prototype is a round structure (not a dome), shaped something like the flattened "bell" of certain jellyfish. It has several innovative features, including revolving dresser drawers, and a fine-mist shower that reduces water consumption. According to Fuller biographer Steve Crooks, the house was designed to be delivered in two cylindrical packages, with interior color panels available at local dealers. A circular structure at the top of the house was designed to rotate around a central mast to use natural winds for cooling and air circulation.

Conceived nearly two decades before, and developed in Wichita, Kansas, the house was designed to be lightweight and adapted to windy climes. It was to be inexpensive to produce and purchase, and easily assembled. It was to be produced using factories, workers and technologies that had produced World War II aircraft. It was ultramodern-looking at the time, built of metal, and sheathed in polished aluminum. The basic model enclosed 90 m² (1000 square feet) of floor area. Due to publicity, there were many orders in the early Post-War years, but the company that Fuller and others had formed to produce the houses failed due to management problems.

In 1969 Fuller began the Otisco Project, named after its location in Otisco, New York. The project successfully developed and demonstrated concrete spray technology used in conjunction with mesh covered wireforms as a viable means of producing large scale, load bearing spanning structures built in situ without the use of pouring molds, other adjacent surfaces or hoisting..

The initial construction method used a circular concrete footing in which anchor posts were set. Tubes cut to length and with ends flattened were then bolted together to form a duodeca-rhombicahedron (22 sided hemisphere) geodesic structure with spans ranging to convert|60|ft|m. The form was then draped with layers of ¼” inch wire mesh attached by twist ties. Concrete was then sprayed onto the structure, building up a solid layer which, when dried, would support additional concrete to be added by a variety of tradition means. Fuller referred to these buildings as monolithic ferroconcrete geodesic domes. The tubular frame form proved to problematic when it came to setting windows and doors.and was abandoned The second method used iron rebar set vertically in the concrete footing and then bent inward and welded in place to create the dome’s wireform structure and preformed satisfactorily. Domes, up to 3 stories tall built with this method proved to be remarkably strong. Other shapes such as cones, pyramids and arches proved equally adaptable.

The project was enabled by a grant underwritten by Syracuse University and sponsored by US Steel (rebar), the Johnson Wire Corp, (mesh) and Portland Cement Company (concrete). The ability to build large complex load bearing concrete spanning structures in free space would open many possibilities in architecture, and is considered as one of Fuller’s greatest contributions.

Words coined (Bucky-isms)

* Livingry is juxtaposed to weaponry and killingry, and means that which is in support of all human, plant, and Earth life. "The architectural profession--civil, naval, aeronautical, and astronautica — has always been the place where the most competent thinking is conducted regarding livingry, as opposed to weaponry." — "Critical Path", page xxv
* Tensegrity is a portmanteau of "tensional integrity". "Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder" — "Synergetics", page 372
* Dymaxion is a portmanteau of "Dynamic maximum tension". It is a trademark of the "Buckminster Fuller Institute".
* Universe "By Universe I mean: the aggregate of all humanity's consciously apprehended and communicated (to self or others) Experiences" (Bucky in 'How little I know', in 'And it came to pass - not to stay', Macmillan, 1976)


Fuller was a frequent flier, often crossing time zones. He famously wore three watches; one for the current zone, one for the zone he had departed, and one for the zone he was going to. [ [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/06/09/080609fa_fact_kolbert?currentPage=all Annals of Innovation: Dymaxion Man: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker] ] [cite book |last = Fuller |first = Buckminster |title = Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth |publisher = Southern Illinois University Press |location = Carbondale |year = 1969 |isbn = 080932461X] Fuller also noted that a single sheet of newsprint, inserted over a shirt and under a suit jacket, provided completely effective insulation during long airflights.

Practical achievements

Certainly, a number of Fuller's projects did not meet success in terms of commitment from industry or acceptance by a broad public. However, many geodesic domes have been built and are in use. According to the [http://www.bfi.org/ Buckminster Fuller Institute] Web site, the largest geodesic-dome structures (listed in descending order from largest diameter) are:
* Fantasy Entertainment Complex: Kyosho Isle, Japan, 216 m (710 ft).
* Multi-Purpose Arena: Nagoya, Japan, 187 m (614 ft).
* Tacoma Dome: Tacoma, WA, USA, 162 m (530 ft).
* Superior Dome: Northern Michigan Univ. Marquette, MI, USA, 160 m (525 ft).
* Walkup Skydome: Northern Arizona Univ. Flagstaff, AZ, USA, 153 m (502 ft).
* Poliedro de Caracas: Caracas, Venezuela, 145 m (475 ft). [http://www.poliedrodecaracas.gob.ve/index.php] [ [http://www.satellite-sightseer.com/id/8853/Venezuela//Caracas/Poliedro_de_Caracas Poliedro de Caracas - Sightseeing with Google Satellite Maps ] ] [http://cityguides.salsaweb.com/belgium/reports/2001/20010120venezuelatravel/venezimages/caracas04.jpg]
* Round Valley High School Stadium: Springerville-Eagar, AZ, USA, 134 m (440 ft).
* Former Spruce Goose Hangar: Long Beach, CA, USA, 126 m (415 ft).
* Formosa Plastics Storage Facility: Mai Liao, Taiwan, 123 m (402 ft).
* Union Tank Car Maintenance Facility: Baton Rouge, LA USA, 117 m (384 ft), destroyed in November 2007. [ [http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/11880141.html 2theadvocate.com News | Kansas City Southern razes geodesic dome — Baton Rouge, LA ] ]
* Lehigh Portland Cement Storage Facility: Union Bridge, MD USA, 114 m (374 ft).
* The Eden Project, Cornwall, United Kingdom [http://www.edenproject.com/index.html - The Eden Project]

Fuller's development of the dome and his roles as a philosopher and as a gadfly within the design and architectural communities left an important legacy. He introduced a number of concepts, and if every one wasn't entirely new, we can still say that he honed each one well.

More than 500,000 geodesic domes have been built around the world. Some notable ones include the 80.8-meter (265 ft) wide Spaceship Earth at Disney World's Epcot Center in Florida, a 109.7-meter (360 ft) tall dome over a shopping center in downtown Ankara, Turkey, and a 85.3-meter (280 ft) high dome enclosing a civic center in Stockholm, Sweden. The world’s largest aluminum dome formerly housed the “Spruce Goose” airplane in Long Beach Harbor, California. However, domes are not an everyday sight in most places. Contrary to initial hopes, in practice, most of the smaller owner-built geodesic structures had drawbacks (see geodesic domes). As a home, many people have been put off by the domes' unconventional appearance.

An interesting spin-off of Fuller's dome-design conceptualization was the [http://www.soccerballworld.com/Historypg2.htm#Buckminster%20Soccer%20Ball Buckminster Ball] , which was the official FIFA approved design for footballs (soccer balls), from their introduction at the 1970 World Cup until recently. The design was essentially a "Geodesic Sphere", consisting of 12 pentagonal and 20 hexagonal panels. This was used continuously for 34 years until it was replaced by a [http://www.soccerballworld.com/Teamgeist.htm 14-panel version] in the 2006 World Cup.

While an envisioned widespread and common adoption of geodesic domes is yet to materialize, Fuller's ideas, teachings, and attitude to life and creativity, in combination, have prodded designers and engineers. What Fuller accomplished, in that sense, was to make professionals and students think "outside the box"; to question convention. Fuller was followed (historically) by other designers and architects (for example, Sir Norman Foster and Steve Baer) willing to explore the possibilities of new geometries in the design of buildings, not based on conventional rectangles. The English writer, playwright, and philosopher John Dryden wrote something quite relevant to the pioneering forays of Fuller still to be brought to full result: "We must beat the iron while it is hot, but we may polish it at leisure."

Facts and Figures

* Fuller was friends with Boston artist Pietro Pezzati.
* He experimented with polyphasic sleep, which he called Dymaxion sleep, and claimed that for two years he was able to sleep only two hours a day. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,774680,00.html Dymaxion Sleep - TIME ] ]
* He was a Unitarian-Universalist.
* An allotrope of carbon - fullerene, and a particular molecule of that allotrope C60 (buckminsterfullerene or buckyball) has been named after him. The Buckminsterfullerene molecule, which consists of 60 carbon atoms, very closely resembles a spherical version of Fuller's geodesic dome (or Soccer ball). The 1996 Nobel prize in chemistry was given to Kroto, Curl, Smalley for their discovery of fullerenes. [ [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1996/index.html Chemistry 1996 ] ]
* On July 12, 2004, the United States Post Office released a new commemorative stamp honoring R. Buckminster Fuller on the 50th anniversary of his patent for the geodesic dome and on the occasion of his 109th birthday.
* Fuller documented his life every 15 minutes from 1915 to 1983, leaving 80 meters (270 ft) of journals. He called this the Dymaxion Chronofile. That is said to be the most documented human life in history.
* He dedicated the US Pavilion dome at Expo 67 to his wife Anne when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary there.
* Around 1979-1980, Bucky shared a lecture tour across America with philosopher Werner Erhard.:"If somebody kept a very accurate record of a human being, going through the era from the Gay 90s, from a very different kind of world through the turn of the century — as far into the twentieth century as you might live. I decided to make myself a good case history of such a human being and it meant that I could not be judge of what was valid to put in or not. I must put everything in, so I started a very rigorous record." [ [http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2003/january22/bucky-122.html Buckminster Fuller conversations resume Jan. 22 : 01/03 ] ] [http://www-sul.stanford.edu//depts/spc/fuller/about.html]
* Buckminster and John Denver were very close friends and the song "What One Man Can Do" on John's 1982 album "Seasons of the Heart" was written for Buckminster's 85th birthday. John dedicated the song to him.
* He is quoted with saying "I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops."
* In June 2008, the Whitney Museum of American Art presented [http://www.whitney.org/www/buckminster_fuller/about.jsp Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe] , the most comprehensive retrospective to date of his work and ideas
* In 2008 the Belgian rock band dEUS recorded the song "The Architect", inspired by Fuller's life.

Use of language and neologisms

Buckminster Fuller spoke and wrote in a unique style and thought it crucial to describe the world as accurately as possible. [ "What is important in this connection is the way in which humans reflex spontaneously for that is the way in which they usually behave in critical moments, and it is often "common sense" to reflex in perversely ignorant ways that produce social disasters by denying knowledge and ignorantly yielding to common sense." Intuition, 1972 Doubleday, New York. p.103 ] Fuller often created long run-on sentences and used unusual compound words (omniwell-informed, intertransformative, omni-interaccommodative, omniself-regenerative) as well as terms he himself coined. [ He wrote a single unpuncuated sentence approximately 3000 words long titled "What I Am Trying to Do." And It Came to Pass - Not to Stay Macmillan Publishing, New York, 1976. ] Fuller used the word 'Universe' without the definite or indefinite articles ("a" or "the") and always capitalized the word. Universe to Fuller meant the sum of all experience. [ I can define many of its parts but I cannot define simultaneously the non-simultaneously occurring aggregate of partially overlapping experiences whose total set of local scenario relationships constitutes Universe though the later as an aggregate of finites is finite. "How Little I Know" from And It Came to Pass - Not to Stay ]

The words "down" and "up", according to Fuller, are awkward in that they refer to a planar concept of direction inconsistent with human experience. The words "in" and "out" should be used instead, he argued, because they better describe an object's relation to a gravitational center, the Earth. [ "I suggest to audiences that they say, "I'm going 'outstairs' and 'instairs.'" At first that sounds strange to them; They all laugh about it. But if they try saying in and out for a few days in fun, they find themselves beginning to realize that they are indeed going inward and outward in respect to the center of Earth, which is our Spaceship Earth. And for the first time they begin to feel real "reality." "Intuition" (1972). ] "World-around" is a term coined by Fuller to replace "worldwide". The general belief in a flat Earth died out in the Middle Ages, so using "wide" is an anachronism when referring to the surface of the Earth — a spheroidal surface has area and encloses a volume, but has no width. Fuller held that unthinking use of obsolete scientific ideas detracts from and misleads intuition. The terms sunsight and sunclipse are other neologisms, according to Allegra Fuller Snyder, collectively coined by the Fuller family, replacing "sunrise" and "sunset" in order to overturn the geocentric bias of most pre-Copernican celestial mechanics. Fuller also coined the phrase Spaceship Earth, and coined the term (but did not invent) "tensegrity."

It has also been claimed that Fuller coined the phrase debunk in 1927, but many credit William Woodward for the term in 1923.

Concepts and buildings

* " [http://bfi.org/node/75 R. Buckminster Fuller's 28 patents] "

His concepts and buildings include:
* Dymaxion house (1928) See autonomous building
* Aerodynamic Dymaxion car (1933)
* Prefabricated compact bathroom cell (1937)
* Dymaxion Map of the world (1946)
* Buildings (1943)
* Tensegrity structures (1949)
* Geodesic dome for Ford Motor Company (1953)
* Patent on geodesic domes (1954)
* The World Game (1961) and the World Game Institute (1972)
* Patent on octet truss (1961)
* Montreal Biosphère (1967) The United States pavilion of the World Exposition


* "4d Timelock" (1928)
* "Nine Chains to the Moon" (1938)
* "Untitled Epic Poem on the History of Industrialization" (1962)
* "Ideas and Integrities, a Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure" (1963) ISBN 0134491408
* "No More Secondhand God and Other Writings" (1963)
* "Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return" (1963)
* "What I Have Learned: A Collection of 20 Autobiograhical Essays", Chapter "How Little I Know", (1968)
* "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" (1969) ISBN 080932461X
* "Utopia or Oblivion" (1969) ISBN 0553028839
* "Approaching the Benign Environment" (1970) ISBN 0817366415
* "I Seem to Be a Verb" (1970) coauthors Jerome Agel, Quentin Fiore, ISBN 1127231537
* "Intuition" (1970)
* "The Buckminster Fuller Reader" (1970) editor James Meller, ISBN 0224617850
* "Buckminster Fuller to Children of Earth" (1972) compiled and photographed by Cam Smith, ISBN 0385029799
* "The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller" (1973) coauthor Robert Marks, ISBN 0385018045
* "Earth, Inc" (1973) ISBN 0385018258
* "Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking" (1975) coauthor E.J. Applewhite, ISBN 002541870X
* "Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, A Cosmic Fairy Tale" (1975)
* "And It Came to Pass--Not to Stay" (1976) ISBN 0025418106
* "R. Buckminster Fuller on Education" (1979) ISBN 0870232762
* "Synergetics 2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking" (1979) coauthor E.J. Applewhite
* "Buckminster Fuller Sketchbook" (1981)
* "Critical Path" (1981) ISBN 0312174888
* "Grunch of Giants" (1983) ISBN 0312351933
* "Humans in Universe" (1983) coauthor Anwar Dil, ISBN 0899250017
* "Inventions: The Patented Works of R. Buckminster Fuller" (1983) ISBN 0312434774
* "Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity" (1992) coauthor Kiyoshi Kuromiya, ISBN 0025418505

ee also

* ""
* Cloud nine (Tensegrity sphere)
* Design science revolution
* Fullerene
* Margaret Fuller: Noted transcendentalist and Buckminster Fuller's great aunt.
* Noosphere
* Thin-shell structure
* "Whole Earth Catalog"

Former students

* Constance Abernathy
* Ruth Asawa
* J. Baldwin
* Bob Berkebile
* Pierre Cabrol
* Joseph Clinton
* Mark Victor Hansen
* David Johnston
* Peter Pearce
* Shoji Sadao
* Edwin Schlossberg
* Kenneth Snelson


Further reading

* "Synergetic Stew: Explorations In Dymaxion Dining". The Buckminster Fuller Institute, Philadelphia. paperback. 1982 (ISBN 0-911573-00-3)
* Alden Hatch "Buckminster Fuller At Home In The Universe". 1974 (ISBN 0-440-04408-1) Crown Publishers, New York.
* Brenneman, Richard. "Fuller's Earth, A Day With Bucky And The Kids" St. Martin's Press, New York, c. 1984. hardcover (ISBN 0-312-30981-3)
* Buckminster Fuller also appears as a character in Paul Wühr's book "Das falsche Buch".
* Donald Robertson "Mind's Eye Of Buckminster Fuller". 1974 (ISBN 0-533-01017-9) Vantage Press, Inc., New York.
* E. J. Applewhite "Cosmic Fishing: An account of writing Synergetics with Buckminster Fuller". 1977 (ISBN 0-02-502710-7)
* E. J. Applewhite, ed. "Synergetics Dictionary, The Mind Of Buckminster Fuller; in four volumes". Garland Publishing, Inc. New York and London. 1986 (ISBN 0-8240-8729-1)
* Eastham, Scott: "American Dreamer. Bucky Fuller and the Sacred Geometry of Nature"; The Lutterworth Press 2007, Cambridge; ISBN 9780718830311
* Edmondson, Amy: "A Fuller Explanation"; EmergentWorld LLC. 2007 (ISBN 978-0-6151-8314-5)
* His former student J. Baldwin wrote "BuckyWorks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today" 1997 (ISBN 0-471-19812-9).
* Hugh Kenner "Bucky: A guided tour of Buckminster Fuller". 1973 (ISBN 0-688-00141-6)
* Krausse, Joachim and Lichtenstein, Claude. ed. "Your Private Sky, R. Buckminster Fuller: The Art Of Design Science". Lars Mueller Publishers. 1999 (ISBN 3-907044-88-6)
* Lloyd Sieden "Buckminster Fuller's Universe, His Life and Work". 1989 (ISBN 0-7382-0379-3), explores Fuller's personal life, his beliefs and drives.
* Lord, V. Athena. "Pilot For Spaceship Earth". Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., New York. hardback. 1978 (ISBN 0-02-761420-4)
* Martin Pawley "Buckminster Fuller". 1991 (ISBN 0-8008-1116-X), offers an architectural critic's assessment of Fuller's ideas and projects.
* McHale, John. "R. Buckminster Fuller". George Brazillier, Inc., New York. hardback. 1962.
* Pawley, Martin. "Buckminster Fuller". Taplinger Publishing Company, New York. 1991. hardcover (ISBN 0-8008-1116-X)
* Potter, R. Robert. "Buckminster Fuller (Pioneers in Change Series)". Silver Burdett Publishers. 1990 (ISBN 0-382-09972-9)
* Sidney Rosen "Wizard of the Dome: R. Buckminster Fuller, Designer for the Future". 1969 (ISBN 0-316-75707-1)
* Snyder, Robert. "Buckminster Fuller: An Autobiographical Monologue/Scenario". St. Martin's Press, New York. hardback. 1980 (ISBN 0-312-24547-5)
* Ward, James. Ed. "The Artifacts Of R. Buckminster Fuller, A Comprehensive Collection of His Designs and Drawings in Four Volumes: Volume One. The Dymaxion Experiment, 1926-1943; Volume Two. Dymaxion Deployment, 1927-1946; Volume Three. The Geodesic Revolution, Part 1, 1947-1959; Volume Four. The Geodesic Revolution, Part 2, 1960-1983": Edited with descriptions by James Ward. Garland Publishing, New York. 1984 (ISBN 0-8240-5082-7 vol. 1, ISBN 0-8240-5083-5 vol. 2, ISBN 0-8240-5084-3 vol. 3, ISBN 0-8240-5085-1 vol. 4)
* Zung, T.K. Thomas. "Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for a New Millennium". St. Martin’s Press. 2001 (ISBN 0-312-26639-1)
* Preface dedicates book to Bucky and relates the potential of networked virtual globes to Bucky's Geoscope.

External links

* [http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf109n9832 Richard Buckminster Fuller Papers, ca.1920-1983] (call number M1090; ca.1400 linear ft.) are housed in the [http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/spc.html Department of Special Collections and University Archives] at [http://library.stanford.edu/ Stanford University Libraries]
* Buckminster Fuller and interstellar communication explored: [http://www.oracleinsights.com/blog/index.php/2006/01/08/an-unlikely-oracle-r-buckminster-fuller/ 'An Unlikely Oracle: R. Buckminster Fuller']
* Buckminster Fuller discussed on [http://www.ibiblio.org/wunc_archives/sot/index.php?p=390 The State of Things]
* [ Transcript of "Everything I Know"] -( [http://web.archive.org/web/20061127205442sh_re_/ Archived copy] at the Internet Archive)
* [http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-69-100-532/life_society/expo_67/clip7 CBC Archives - clip about United States Pavilion at Expo 67]
* [http://biographylist.com/buckminster-fuller/biography Buckminster Fuller Biography]
* [http://collections.stanford.edu/bucky/ Buckminster Fuller Digital Collection at Stanford] includes 380 hrs. of streamed audio-visual material from Fuller's personal archive
* [http://creativity.com/various/bucky.html Buckminster Fuller: Grandfather Of The Future]
* [http://fuller.nullinator.net/stories/141 A Fuller Explanation Introduction into the Design Revolution]
* [http://memeticdrift.net/bucky/index.html The "Everything I Know" 42-hour lecture session] — video, audio, and full transcripts.
* [http://shop.usps.com/cgi-bin/vsbv/postal_store_non_ssl/display_products/productDetail.jsp?OID=4849106 Information about Fuller's commemorative postage stamp]
* [http://www.bfi.org/ The Buckminster Fuller Institute]
** [http://www.bfi.org/audio/ Directory of Audio and Video real streams from the Buckminster Fuller Institute]
* [http://www.buckminster.info/ Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute]
* [http://www.cjfearnley.com/buckyrefs.html Chris Fearnley's List of Buckminster Fuller Resources on the Internet]
* [http://www.cjfearnley.com/fuller-faq.html FAQ — R. Buckminster Fuller]
* [http://www.futurehi.net/docs/OperatingManual.html Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth]
* [http://www.grunch.net/synergetics/ Synergetics on the Web]
* [http://www.hfmgv.org/dymaxion/ The Dymaxion house at the Henry Ford museum]
* [http://www.lazyreader.com/blog/index.php/archives/169 The Buckminster Alternative] Fuller's life as a lesson in living
* [http://www.newciv.org/worldtrans/whole/bucky.html Fuller, R. Buckminster] — includes list of books written by and about Fuller
* [http://www.olats.org/pionniers/pp/buckminster/buckminster.php Buckminster Fuller at Pionniers & Précurseurs. Containing a good bibliography]
* [http://www.roger.kisd.de/197.0.html?&L=1 Excellent Portrait of RBF in the design magazine ROGER]
* [http://www.rwgrayprojects.com/rbfnotes/toc.html Notes to R. Buckminster Fuller's Work]
** [http://www.rwgrayprojects.com/synergetics/toc/toc.html Buckminster Fuller's SYNERGETICS]
* [http://www.thirteen.org/bucky R. Buckminster Fuller on PBS]
** [http://www.thirteen.org/cgi-bin/bucky-bin/bucky.cgi Thinking Out Loud, a PBS TV program about Buckminster Fuller]
* [http://www.tomdevine.net/bucky.html Bucky Revisited] - Reflections on Buckminster Fuller
* [http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/07/64155 WIRED article about Buckminster Fuller]
* [http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,64155,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_5 Wired News Article on the Buckminster stamp]
* [http://www.zometool.com/ Build Genius: Zome System]
* [http://www.weareallastronauts.com/ We are all astronauts. a random design project] A website about Buckminster Fullers theories - made by the multimedia studio "urbn; interaction".
* [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/06/09/080609fa_fact_kolbert Dymaxion Man: The Visions of Buckminster Fuller] By Elizabeth Kolbert, "The New Yorker" (June 9, 2008)
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/arts/music/15ster.html?_r=3&oref=slogin%20%3Chttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/arts/music/15ster.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller] New York Times article questioning Fuller's supposed consideration of suicide, (June 15, 2008)
* [http://www.whitney.org/www/buckminster_fuller/about.jsp Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe] , a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, June 26-Sept 21, 2008

NAME=Fuller, Buckminster
SHORT DESCRIPTION=American inventor and author
DATE OF BIRTH=July 12, 1895
PLACE OF BIRTH=Milton, Massachusetts
DATE OF DEATH=July 1, 1983

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