Buckminster Fuller

The Actions and Legacies of a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Scientist


Background images: (Design Museum), (McKeough), (Langley)

R. Buckminster Fuller
Signature: (Fuller, Buckminster Fuller: An Autobiographical Monologue/Scenario 216)

Primary Sources

Baldwin, Jay. BuckyWorks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996.

Jay Baldwin was one of the most well-informed authors, because he was a student of Fuller and even designed his own domes. As is evident in the title, this book was meant to show that Fuller's designing for the future was really designing for what is now our time today. By embracing geodesics and efficiency, humanity increases its potential. One of the examples of how geodesics are utilized is in North Face tents. Their tents use geodesics, and claim so on their website today. It's important because the tent stands up and is resistant to bending or breaking in high winds and inclement weather. There were several examples that showed Fuller's modern relevance, and how to improve design science. This is a primary source because I gained a lot of quotes by Fuller and photos of him and his work.

"The Dymaxion American." TIME 10 Jan. 1964. TIME.com. 14 Apr. 2009 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,875527-1,00.html>.

This article about Buckminster Fuller was the Cover Story of TIME Magazine in the January 10th, 1964 issue. This is significant because it's in the time of his work's increasing popularity, and provides a historical look at Fuller. This article is very promotional of how his works can be used for tomorrow. TIME's article provided multiple viewpoints, citing several architects. One architect, Nathaniel Owings of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill who called Fuller "the most creative man in our field; he's the only one that's dealing with something that's totally dissimilar to what everybody else is doing. He's tried to find out how nature really works." Another architect, Minoru Yamasaki, said Fuller was "an intense, devoted genius, whose mind, which is better than an IBM machine, has influenced all of us." The article quoted Fuller multiple times and showed a different, more humanitarian side that his own books tend to ignore. It also showcased some of the more difficult times of his life.

Fuller, R. Buckminster. 4D Time Lock. 1928. Albuquerque, NM: Lama Foundation, 1972.

I read this book, Fuller's first, in an attempt to gain a better understanding of what his thoughts were about his design theories. It was incredibly complicated, but his words engage readers actively, not passively. There were many interesting sketches of his initial works. Due to the complexity and technicality of his writing, I used other sources because they're easier to understand.

- - -. Ideas and Integrities: A Spontanteous Autobiographical Disclosure. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, inc., 1963.

This incredibly in-depth, complicated book led to my understanding of Fuller's own thinking and not just what he did and how he did it, but the basic motivations of why he did everything he did. His vocabulary is enormous and carries an immense power in his messages of philosophy and how synergy, wealth, technology, geometry, effectivity, and his other beliefs apply to our world at any given point in time. Since it is an autobiography, he gives details about his early life and first few jobs. Geodesic Domes, 4D Design, World Planning, and the "Continuous Man" are some of the chapters.

- - -. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1991.

Buckminster Fuller was well known for his mass of literary works. This is one of his more famous books, chronicling the saga of the Great Pirates. The Great Pirates were what he believed were the true leaders of the ancient world. They created cartography and navigation, which were vital arts before the rise of technology. They created schools and most importantly specialization, leading to a world where nobody is a master of everything: After all, that's why the Great Pirates had so much power. The rise of technology ended that, and led to what Fuller believed was overspecialization. He thought that by uniting these specialized knowledgeable cross-sections of humanity as one force for survival, rather than competing against one another, humanity could solve the problems that were causing it to compete against itself.

- - -. Your Private Sky. Ed. Joachim Krausse and Claude Lichtenstein. Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, 1999.

This book, along with its accompanying book, Your Private Sky Discourse, form an almost complete textual-visual tour through Buckminster Fuller's life. It describes and shows his youth, businesses, theories, blueprints, projects, sketches, success, and failures. It was incredible to look through and see the multitude of Geodesic Domes that have been made. This is a primary source because its text is primarily Fuller's writing, accompanied by hundreds of photographs and drawings. Some of Fuller's own photographs are included, as one of his hobbies was photography. Many of them are from students and others who knew Fuller. Some important statements are from other people, but most of it is a compilation of pieces of Fuller's previously unpublished writing. This book was created in 1999, sixteen years after his death in 1983 of a heart attack.

Sieden, Lloyd Steven, et al. "Buckminster Fuller." Interview with Frank Stasio. The State of Things. Natl. Public Radio. WUNC, Chapel Hill, NC. 11 Oct. 1995. WUNC 91.5fm "The State of Things" Audio Archive. 11 Oct. 2005. 10 Mar. 2009 <http://www.ibiblio.org/wunc_archives/sot/index.php?p=390>.

This radio interview by WUNC public radio in North Carolina was useful because it had quotes spoken in Fuller's own voice and also interviewed several other experts on him, including John Wright, board chairman at Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center in Asheville; Lloyd Steven Sieden, author of "Buckminster Fuller's Universe: His Life and Work" (Perseus/2000); Jay Baldwin, author of "Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today" (Wiley/1997); and David McConville, co-founder of Elumenati, a company in Asheville that designs immersive projection environments. Fuller's voice is quirky and stammers occasionally using long, thought-provoking phrases and his unique humor. I enjoyed listening to all 59 minutes of the interview, because it talks about many inspiring sides of Fuller. I mainly used the voice clips of Fuller speaking, making this a primary source.

Secondary Sources

Davies, A. "Richard Buckminster Fuller." Design Technology. 3 Dec. 2008 <http://www.design-technology.org/page1.htm>.

This source was useful because it detailed the Geodesic Dome and Fuller's plans for it. It gave some background information on how the death of Fuller's daughter motivated him to make a difference in the world and also explains the dire financial situation he got himself into with the failure of his Stockade Building company. The basic information on this website led me to pursue researching Buckminster Fuller because I wanted to know more about his interesting and futuristic designs, as well as the story behind his motivation to change the world and methods of doing so. His story is one that everyone can benefit from learning about.

Design Museum. "R. Buckminster Fuller." Design Museum. 25 Nov. 2008 <http://www.designmuseum.org/design/r-buckminster-fuller>.

This article from the Design Museum speaks mostly about Buckminster Fuller's works in the physical world. Many sketches of domes, houses, cars, and towers are shown alongside the content. It tells a lot about Fuller's childhood which was information that was difficult to find. It includes a history of several projects that failed, as well as the ones that are more frequently talked about. This source was useful because it provided unique, detailed information and offered a perspective from an artistic view of Fuller's works. It acknowledged that design is not only form, but also function. This was evident in Fuller's designs through his Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science, his term for doing more with less resources. This influenced his designs, philosophy, and actions in his life.

Funch, Flemming. "Buckminster Fuller." World Transformation. 25 Nov. 2008 <http://www.worldtrans.org/whole/bucky.html>.

This article about Buckminster Fuller provides basic information about him and talks about the Dymaxion Map, his definition of synergy, and other accomplishments. I used it for its description of Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science. It was helpful because it was one of my first views into the complex things that Fuller did in his lifetime. It proves the point that Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science works with the quote "For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten years ago the 'more with less' technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option of becoming enduringly successful." It's easy to see that Fuller's ideas are relevant to modern-day society through the use of nanotechnology, with its geodesic-domes nicknamed buckyballs after Fuller, along with many other uses for resource-efficient design.

Langley, Jancy. "10 Gonzo Machines From Rogue Inventor Buckminster Fuller." Popular Mechanics. 30 June 2008. 31 Jan. 2009 <http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4270764.html>.

I used this source for some photographs of Buckminster Fuller's creations. It was useful in providing high-quality images to use in my workspace-like background on my website.

McKeough, Tim. "What We Can Learn From Buckminster Fuller." Wired 23 June 2008. Wired.com. 31 Jan. 2009 <http://www.wired.com/culture/art/multimedia/2008/06/pl_arts>.

I used this source for its excellent photographs of Buckminster Fuller and his works. The article was a photographic tour of 10 of the most influential things that Fuller achieved, presented in a slide by slide format. The illustrations on this web site were of better quality than those on other sites, so I chose this source over some others.

Zung, Thomas T. K., ed. Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for the New Millennium. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.

The Anthology collects some of the most influential and thought-provoking chapters Fuller has written, alternated with students and friends speaking about him. Zung, the editor, wrote "The need for the public, especially the young, to discover his thinking anew impelled me to take on this anthology." I used quotes from people who knew him, because it gave another aspect of his character that isn't covered in many writings about him. Zung meant this to be a new book to reintroduce Fuller into the new millenium, the future Fuller had designed for.

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