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Spotlight: Buckminster Fuller

Pioneering radical Buckminster Fuller, (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) an inventor, architect and the second president of Mensa, had a massive impact on the architecture and popular culture of the latter 20th century. Most famous for popularizing the geodesic dome, Fuller is also known as the father of sustainability, and was driven by his intention “to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”

Spotlight: Buckminster Fuller Spotlight: Buckminster Fuller Spotlight: Buckminster Fuller Spotlight: Buckminster Fuller

Montreal 1967 World's Fair, "Man and His World," Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome With Solar Experimental House, 2012. Photo © Jade Doskow
Montreal 1967 World's Fair, "Man and His World," Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome With Solar Experimental House, 2012. Photo © Jade Doskow

Born in Massachusetts, Fuller's talents for invention became clear during his early childhood, building his own tools and creating a new method of propelling rowing boats with an umbrella when he was 12. Building on this knowledge to attend Harvard University, Fuller was not expelled not once, but twice: once for spending all his money on partying with a Vaudeville troupe and again after being re-admitted for his seeming lack of interest and non-conformity. Despite this, he earned a machinist's certification while working in Canada, gaining an intimate knowledge of material properties and tools that would later influence his radical architecture. 

Never confined to a single profession, Fuller worked as a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist" to solve global problems surrounding housing, shelter, transportation, education, energy, ecological destruction and poverty. Throughout his prolific career, Fuller held 28 patents, authored 28 books and received 47 honorary degrees. Best known for the geodesic dome, (which has been reproduced over 300,000 times worldwide) Fuller popularised the structure after its invention by Dr Walther Bauersfeld 30 years before, gaining the US patent and erecting models across the United States. Receiving increasing attention from the world and also from the FBI, Fuller's work culminated in the incredible Montreal Biosphere at the 1967 Exposition.

Becoming a well known futurist, Fuller fought for innovative solutions to humanity's problems, becoming an early pioneer of sustainable design and renewable energy and participating in the first United Nations forum on human settlement, Habitat 1. And of course, he carried on creating a huge range of incredible designs and projects, including the three wheeled Dymaxion Car and the grain silo inspired Dymaxion House

Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, 4D House, United States Patent Office no. 1,793, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print on Lenox paper; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati
Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, 4D House, United States Patent Office no. 1,793, from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One, 1981; screen print on Lenox paper; 30 in. x 40 in. (76.2 cm x 101.6 cm); Collection SFMOMA, gift of Chuck and Elizabeth Byrne; © The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller, All Rights reserved. Published by Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati

Learn more about Bucky, including a video of him singing his own original "ode to a dome" via the links below.

Bucky's own version of “Home on the Range,” which features the playful yet critical line: 

“Let Architects dream of glass boxes with steam / And rich clients in hordes at their knees Just give me a home in a great circle dome / Where the birds and bees are at ease.”

Dymaxion | ArchDaily

AD Classics: Montreal Biosphere / Buckminster Fuller

SFMoMA Exhibit: "The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area"

"Everything I Know": 42 Hours of Buckminster Fuller

Cite:Dario Goodwin. "Spotlight: Buckminster Fuller" 12 Jul 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/253750/happy-birthday-buckminster-fuller-1895-1983/>