July 01: ducky Bucky

2012/07/01 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1983 Buckminster Fuller died.

If Buckminster Fuller (b. 1895) was not a real person, he would have been invented by a science fiction writer. His resume is as long as it is wacky; he was a general space-age crazy-genius who spun scientific theories and technological propositions the way most people write up a grocery list.  He had serious trouble fitting in at Harvard, and for that reason too the Muse salutes him.  Plenty of other honors were heaped on him during his life–lots of certificates from science institutes, dozens of patents.  We’d love to see his course evaluations from the times he taught at NC State in Raleigh and SIU in Carbondale.

After a long and tortured start to life (most crazy geniuses have a straight shot up and then fall apart, he did it backwards, so nutty was this cat), things started to click–especially once Fuller started teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, which was a very interesting place to be around 1949.  It was there that he perfected his design of geodesic domes that has brought him his most lasting fame.  The structures are exceptionally strong for their weight and epitomize the mid-century’s future vision like nothing else except, maybe, jet packs.

Fuller published dozens of books and made up (or popularized) terms like ephemeralization and Spaceship Earth and synergetics and Dymaxion.  The latter term was applied to visionary projects that Fuller designed for cars and houses.  If you want to float off to futurist nirvana, check out this clip of Norman Foster–in an excellent jacket–driving one of them.  None of them ever really took off, but their concepts have been influential to other projects and inspirational to generations of future-forward architects.  But unlike many of those who forgot that humanity might like to come along for the ride, Fuller always had people in mind.  If Modernism has a teddy bear, Bucky is it.  He represents a softer side to the era, and would even sing you a lullaby.

Image: the man (from this source) (which includes mind-blowing Buckyisms)

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