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R. Buckminster Fuller

R. Buckminster FullerAKA Richard Buckminster Fuller, Jr.

Born: 12-Jul-1895
Birthplace: Milton, MA
Died: 1-Jul-1983
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA

Gender: Male
Religion: Unitarian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Architect, Engineer, Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Futurist, invented the geodesic dome

Military service: US Navy (WWI)

Engineer, inventor, architect and philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller authored numerous popular books, held dozens of patents, and had a profound impact on subsequent generations of design. He is best known for his 1949 invention of the geodesic dome, which uses interconnecting triangular frames to form a lightweight but sturdy dome which needs no internal support. Described as futuristic in appearance even today, the geodesic dome provides maximum interior space with minimal use of land, raw materials, and construction labor, and is far more efficient than ordinary brick-and-mortar, wood-and-nail homebuilding.

As a designer, Fuller was driven by a philosophy of "more for less", and vehemently opposed waste, superficial styling, and many manufacturers' underlying philosophy of built-in obsolescence. He combined the words "dynamic" and "maximum" to coin the word "Dymaxion", a brand applied to several inventions. The portable Dymaxion House (1929) resembled a large hockey puck, but its interior was breathtaking, with curving walls and windows. The Dymaxion Car (1933) was more like a lightweight bus, seating ten passengers in an aerodynamic body, with three wheels and excellent gas mileage.

Fuller studied mathematics at Harvard but was expelled for "lack of ambition"; he never obtained a college degree, and worked for many years at meat-packing plants until he was able to support himself and his family through teaching, writing, and his inventions. He suffered an extended bout of depression after the death of his daughter in 1922, while his family was near bankruptcy and living in public housing. In his memoirs he wrote that he overcame thoughts of suicide by deciding to make the rest of his life "an experiment to find what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity."

Known to all as "Bucky", his experiment ended on 1 July 1983; his wife of almost 66 years, Anne Hewlett Fuller, died two days later. Bucky left behind a meticulous record of his life on Spaceship Earth, the seventy-year Dymaxion Chronofile, and hours of extemporaneous, recorded lectures. He was a grandnephew of both feminist writer and publisher Margaret Fuller and US Supreme Court Justice Melville W. Fuller. His son-in-law, documentary filmmaker Robert Snyder, won an Oscar in 1950 for The Titan: Story of Michelangelo.

Father: Richard Buckminster Fuller (leather and tea merchant, b. 13-Feb-1861, d. 12-Jul-1910)
Mother: Caroline Wolcott Andrews (b. May-1868, m. 30-Apr-1891)
Brother: Wolcott Fuller (salesman, b. 12-Nov-1898, d. 30-Nov-1959)
Sister: Caroline Leslie Fuller Earned (b. 13-Aug-1892)
Sister: Rosamond Fuller ("Rosie", b. circa 1905)
Wife: Anne Hewlett Fuller (b. 9-Jun-1896, m. 12-Jul-1917, d. 3-Jul-1983)
Daughter: Alexandra (b. 1919, d. 1922, pneumonia)
Daughter: Allegra Fuller Snyder (dance teacher, b. 1927)

    High School: Milton Academy, Milton, MA
    University: Harvard University (attended 1913-15, expelled)
    Teacher: Black Mountain College (1948-49)
    Professor: Design Science, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (1959-68)
    Professor: Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry, Harvard University (1962)
    Professor: Univ. Prof. of Design Science, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (1968-75)

    Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal for Architecture 1968
    Humanist of the Year 1969
    American Institute of Architects Gold Medal 1970
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 23-Feb-1983
    Phelps Dodge Designer (1936-48)
    Stockade Building Co. Co-Founder (1922-27)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Academy of Arts and Letters
    Royal Society of Arts
    Esalen Speaker
    Expelled from School
    Bankruptcy 1927
    Heart Attack (fatal)
    Eponyms Fullerenes or "buckyballs" (carbon molecules structured akin to geodesic spheres)
    Risk Factors: Alcoholism, Depression

Official Website:

Appears on the cover of:
Time, 10-Jan-1964, DETAILS: R. Buckminster Fuller

Author of books:
4-D Timelock (1928, non-fiction)
Nine Chains to the Moon, with Maps and Charts (1938, non-fiction)
Dymaxion Index (1953, non-fiction; with Fuller Research Foundation)
Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to his Studies (1962, non-fiction)
Untitled Epic Poem on the History of Industrialization (1962, non-fiction)
No More Secondhand Gods, and Other Writings (1963, essays)
Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1963, memoir)
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969, non-fiction)
I Seem to Be a Verb (1970, memoir; with Jerome Agel and Quentin Fiore)
Approaching the Benign Environment (1970, non-fiction)
Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity (1970, non-fiction)
Earth, Inc. (1973, non-fiction)
Intuition (1973, non-fiction)
Synergetics (1975, non-fiction)
And It Came to Pass -- Not to Stay (1976, non-fiction)
R. Buckminster Fuller on Education (1979, essays)
Synergetics 2 (1979, non-fiction)
Critical Path (1981, non-fiction)
Grunch of Giants (1982, geopolitics)
Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1982, children's non-fiction)
Cosmography (1992, non-fiction; published posthumously)

Selected edifices:
Dymaxion House (1928)
Ford Motor Company Geodesic Dome (1953)
US Pavilion, Montreal World's Fair (1967)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, (37 cents, issued 12-Jul-2004)

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