The Museum of Modern Art New York has announced the opening of an exhibition focused on the first realized and unrealized projects that address ecological and environmental concerns. Featuring works by architects who practiced mainly in the United States from the 1930s through the 1990s, the exhibition titled “Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism” is on view from September 17, 2023, through January 20, 2024. The over 150 works showcased reveal the rise of the environmental movement through the lens of architectural practice and thought.
Buckminster Fuller: The Latest Architecture and News
Today we know R. Buckminster Fuller primarily through his oeuvre of iconic objects and ideas created over the arc of a nearly 90-year life. Born in the last decade of the 19th century, Fuller lived long enough to hang out with Steve Jobs. He’s variously described as a “systems thinker,” perhaps the first “futurist,” a visionary, engineer, geometer, and architect (he won the AIA Gold Medal in 1970). But “inventor” is probably the most accurate description. Historian and writer Alec Nevala-Lee’s 2022 biography, aptly titled Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller (Dey St. Books), tells a nuanced story of the man known for geodesic domes; space frames; “Spaceship Earth”; the Dymaxion map, house, and car; and concepts such as tensegrity, synergy, and “ephemeralization” (“doing everything with nothing at all,” as he described it).
Architecture is not simply building. Over 2,000 years ago, Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio defined two base realities in building: “Firmness” (Safety) and “Commodity” (Use) and then offered what turns building into architecture: “Delight” (Beauty).
“Firmness” has been recoined in this century as “Resilience”. After being unscathed in five hurricanes over thirty years, does this building have “Delight” beyond its “Firmness”? The property of “Commodity” is found in any design’s usefulness and fit: is this archive, in constant use, have “Delight” beyond its “Commodity”?
The American architect, designer, and futurist Buckminster Fuller once defined the Dymaxion principle as “constructing ever more with ever less weight, time, and ergs per each given level of functional performance.”
Encompassing a Buckminster Fuller–designed geodesic dome and an Alexander Calder sculpture, the intervention shows how the city is rethinking its world’s fair treasures.
The contemporary urban fabric of Montreal, perhaps more than any other Canadian city, was shaped by a single event in its modern history: the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, popularly known as Expo 67. With its record-breaking number of visitors, it was the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century and fueled a construction boom in the city that stretched into the late 1970s.
The Insignificance of Aesthetics: An Exhibition at Vitra Design Museum Adds a Context of Urgency to the Works of Victor Papanek
This article was originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "Design Provocateur: Revisiting the Prescient Ideas of Victor Papanek".
“Today industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis,” declared Victor Papanek, design provocateur and critic, from the podium of a design-activist happening in 1968. “By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim,” he roared, “by creating a whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed.”
This article was originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "Why Architects Need to Get Dirty to Save the World."
Of all the terrarium-like experiments included in Lydia Kallipoliti’s The Architecture of Closed Worlds: Or, What Is the Power of Shit? (Lars Müller/Storefront for Art and Architecture), Biosphere 2 is the most infamous. A steel-and-glass structure baking in the Arizona desert, it represents the hope and hubris of re-creating Earth on Earth. The project was launched by an alternative living group with a taste for theater, and tanked by disastrous management by Steve Bannon (yes, him). As such, it illustrates the risky arc that courses through Kallipoliti’s 300-page volume—visions of utopia bending toward ultimate failure.
R. Buckminster Fuller remains, 35 years after his passing, one of architecture’s preeminent minds. His proposals in construction, housing, mapping, and even transportation have a continued influence in the fields of architecture and engineering today, despite many of them having been designed nearly a century ago.
Pioneering radical Richard Buckminster "Bucky" 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.”
Through his extensive research, inventions and structural experiments, Buckminster Fuller created the term tensegrity to describe "self-tensioning structures composed of rigid structures and cables, with forces of traction and compression, which form an integrated whole" . In other words, tensegrity is the property demonstrated by a system that employs cables (traction) and rigidity of other elements (usually steel, wood or bamboo) capable of acting under the intrinsic stresses (traction and compression) together and simultaneously, giving greater resistance and formal stability. It creates an interconnected structure that works biologically like muscles and bones, where one element strengthens the other.
After being knighted in 1990 for services to architecture, winning the 1999 Pritzker Prize and then gaining peerage in the same year, it could be argued that there is no living architect that has had a larger impact on urban life than Norman Foster. In a recent talk, Foster addressed a sold-out Barbican Hall on the future of our growing urban landscape, in the seventh installment of the Architecture On Stage series organized by The Architecture Foundation with the Barbican. While the content was full of grandiose statements and predictions, of a scale similar to the projects Foster's practice undertakes, it was the problem-solving approach he showed that gave more of an insight into the man himself. The following 5 lessons gleaned from the presentation won't guarantee Foster-like levels of success, but they may be able to help you navigate the challenges that architecture can present, both personally and professionally.
Metropolis Magazine has released a curated list of 19 new books to read this spring, with topics ranging from the evolution of social housing to Stanley Kubrick's unfilmed masterpiece to a fascinating tome on the architecture of Zionism. Not simply volumes detailing well-tread histories, these chosen titles explore every niche category through the lens of architecture. Ever wondered how Buckminster Fuller inspired six former gang members to construct his geodesic dome? Or what metro stations in North Korea look like?
Reinterpreting the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, North Face have announced the latest tent in their collection; a geodesic dome tent. Thanks to the most spatially efficient shape in architecture, it can withstand winds of up to 60 mph as the force is spread evenly across the structure whilst even providing enough height for a six-foot person to stand comfortably inside.
The extremely efficient design has allowed the tent to weigh not much more than 11kg and comprise of 5 main poles and the equator for fast and easy assembly and storage. The outdoor gear company has also considered a water-resistant dual-layered exterior skin for their incredibly strong and sturdy tent to endure whatever mother nature has to throw at it.
Had the worst jury ever? Failed your exams? Worry not! Before you fall on your bed and cry yourself to sleep—after posting a cute, frantic-looking selfie on Instagram, of course (hashtag so dead)—take a look at this list of nine celebrated architects, all of whom share a common trait. You might think that a shiny architecture degree is a requirement to be a successful architect; why else would you put yourself through so many years of architecture school? Well, while the title of "architect" may be protected in many countries, that doesn't mean you can't design amazing architecture—as demonstrated by these nine architects, who threw convention to the wind and took the road less traveled to architectural fame.
The production of creative work often requires a very particular type of space—a temple, if you will, to the work being done. Architects and artists are open about how their living and working areas affect their practice, and musicians, of course, are no different. Perhaps this is why places and spaces are often featured on album covers. The art on an album cover is partially advertising, but it is also often a visual symbol of an entire period in the life of a musician. An album's cover artwork may depict the view a band saw coming into the studio every day, the building the album was recorded in, the city the musician grew up in, or myriad other more abstract connections. We will leave it to you to make sense of the connection between the 7 architectural landmarks featured on the following albums and the music their images envelop, but the stories behind the constructions themselves may help you make a more educated guess.
One of Buckminster Fuller’s visionary housing structures is set to be erected at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The 50-foot structure, known as the “Fly’s Eye Dome” is the largest of only three original prototypes hand-fabricated by Fuller during his lifetime.
Well-known architects are easy to admire or dismiss from afar, but up close, oddly humanizing habits often come to light. However, while we all have our quirks, most people's humanizing habits don't give an insight into how they became one of the most notable figures in their field of work. The following habits of several top architects reveal parts of their creative process, how they relax, or simply parts of their identity. Some are inspiring and some are surprising, but all give a small insight into the mental qualities that are required to be reach the peak of the architectural profession—from an exceptional work drive to an embrace of eccentricity (and a few more interesting qualities besides).