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Amy C. Edmondson A Fuller Explanation


The scene is Montreal, 1967: travelers from around the world emerge from a subway station at the Expo site, and catch their first glimpse of an enormous transparent bubble. Looking and exclaiming, they gravitate toward this strange monument, which is the United States Pavilion, and few notice the stocky white-haired old man, straining his slightly deaf ears to glean their reactions. Buckminster Fuller, playing the disinterested bystander, along with Anne Hewlett Fuller, his wife of exactly fifty years, is a triumphant eavesdropper; the candid observers have enthusiastically approved his design. Fifteen years later, he recalls that summer morning with a playful grin, clearly enjoying the memory of his short stint as detective, and I can almost see him there, standing next to Anne, silently sharing the knowledge that the years of perserverence-ignoring skepticism and often decidedly harsh disapproval of his mathematical work-were vindicated.

      Bucky is such a gifted story teller that I also imagine I can see the huge geodesic sphere reflecting the intense summer sun, and it looks more like one of nature's creations than architecture. But it is steel, Plexiglas and human ingenuity that have created this glittering membrane, which was, in 1967, the world's largest dome, spanning 250 feet and reaching an altitude equal to that of a twenty-story building, without any interior support.

      More than just the millions who visited Expo '67 have admired this architectural feat, and humanity has found countless other uses for the geodesic dome, as evidenced by the 100,000 such structures of various materials and sizes that are sprinkled around the globe. However, the "synergetic geometry," which lies behind Fuller's remarkable design, has remained almost completely obscure.

      The goal of this book is to catalyze a process which I hope will continue and expand on its own: to rescue Fuller's fascinating material from its unfortunate obscurity.

A. C. E.

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