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R. Buckminster Fuller

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R. Buckminster Fuller

American, (1895–1983)
Black Mountain College

Richard Buckminster Fuller was born just outside of Boston, MA in 1895—the same year that the radio was invented. This coincidence played into the story that he told of his life as well as his natural inclination to look to the future. The inventions that he witnessed as a young man, like the automobile and airplane, only increased his interest in the intersection of humanity and science. As a young man he was quick to understand geometry and found that he could visualize shapes three-dimensionally. He attended Harvard University and served in the United States Navy in the First World War. His first foray into architecture was with his father-in-law, noted architect James Monroe Hewlett, when they founded the Stockade Building System. After that business failed and Fuller and his wife, Anne Hewlett, suffered the death of their first child, Fuller decided to dedicate his life to the betterment of humanity. He combined his understanding of mathematics and engineering with environmentalism to promote understanding of the finite resources the planet Earth had to offer. By joining his interest in design with the intention to “make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense of the disadvantage of anyone” Fuller made himself into an inventor of technology that could benefit everyone. Of all his inventions he is best known for the geodesic dome. He first investigated the structure as an architecture instructor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina during the summers of 1948 and 1949. Originally proposed as affordable housing, geodesic structures can now be found the world over as commercial and domestic buildings. In the 1970s he published writings on Synergetics or mathematical solutions which could be applied to a variety of human issues to find solutions. In 1981, two years before his death, he published his Inventions: Twelve Around One portfolio which combined drawings and photographs of his 13 greatest inventions.

[Source: Museum Staff - Whitney Richardson]

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