Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller was a man of many talents: he was an architect, an inventor, a designer, even an author. Some of his most famous works have been very influential in modern history.

Fuller was born on July 12, 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts. At a young age, he had an eye for building things and he would bring materials from everywhere to experiment in his home. He attended the Milton Academy and then attended Harvard, where he was expelled twice for partying and “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” He then took odd jobs. In 1917, he married Anne Hewlett, and in the 1920s, he started a company that produced weatherproof and fireproof housing, but the venture failed.

After his young daughter, Alexandra, died from complications from polio and spinal meningitis in 1928, Fuller decided to embark on an “experiment.” While taking a job decorating Romany Marie’s café, he met Isamu Noguchi, a prominent Japanese artist and architect, in 1929. Hitting it off, the pair soon started making designs together, including the model for the Dymaxion car.

Fuller began teaching at the Black Mountain College during the summers of 1948 and 1949. Soon, he began the invention of the geodesic dome. It had actually been invented 30 years earlier, but Fuller was the one who popularized it and received the patent on it. His first dome, 14 ft in diameter, was erected in 1949. Before long, the US government began employing him to make the domes for the US army.

The geodesic dome is important because it provides people with an enclosed space that needs no internal support. Though it’s very lightweight, it can withstand even hurricane-strength winds.

The following years saw Fuller teaching at various universities and collaborating with other famous designers, including John McHale. When it came to his various inventions and designs, Fuller used to say, “When working on a problem, I never think about beauty; I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know that it is wrong.” It was a perfect example of how Fuller liked to blend a bit of philosophy into his everyday life.

Fuller also began devoting time to envisioning the future. He foresaw that one day people would most likely come to depend on renewable energy like wind and water. Later, he would inaugurate the 1965 World Design Science Decade in Paris. In 1969, he was awarded the Humanist of the Year award by the American Humanist Association.

Fuller died July 1, 1983, at the age of 87. By the end of his life, he was touted as a champion of alternative communities as well as one of the modern world’s most well-known designer and architects. He had 28 patents to his name and many different honorary doctorates.