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Fascinating facts about the invention of the Geodesic Dome by R. Buckminster Fuller in 1954. GEODESIC DOME
AT A GLANCE:
R.
Buckminster Fuller was truly a man ahead of his time. Fuller was a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called “artifacts.” Some were built as prototypes; others exist only on paper; all he felt were technically viable. His most famous invention was the Geodesic Dome developed in 1954. Its design created the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised. The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other enclosure.
Invention: Geodesic Dome
Epcot Center Geodesic Dome
Function: noun / structure
Definition: The lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised. The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other enclosure.
Patent: 3,197,927 (U.S.) issued August 3, 1965
Inventor: R. Buckminster Fuller
Criteria: First to invent. First to patent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: July 12, 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts
Death: July 1, 1983
Nationality: American
Buckminster Fuller is best known for the invention of the geodesic dome, the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised. The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other enclosure. It becomes proportionally lighter and stronger the larger it is. The geodesic dome is a breakthrough in shelter, not only in cost-effectiveness, but in ease of construction. In 1957, a geodesic dome auditorium in Honolulu was put up so quickly that 22 hours after the parts were delivered, a full house was comfortably seated inside enjoying a concert. Today over 300,000 domes dot the globe.

Plastic and fiberglass "radomes" house delicate radar equipment along the Arctic perimeter, and weather stations withstand winds up to 180 mph. Corrugated metal domes have given shelter to families in Africa, at a cost of $350 per dome. The U.S. Marine Corps hailed the geodesic dome as "the first basic improvement in mobile military shelter in 2,600 years." The world’s largest aluminum clear-span structure is at Long Beach Harbor.
Fuller is most famous for his 20-story dome housing the U.S. Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67. Later, he documented the feasibility of a dome two miles in diameter that would enclose mid-town Manhattan in a temperature-controlled environment, and pay for itself within ten years from the savings of snow-removal costs alone.

R. Buckminster Fuller’s first world wide acceptance by the architectural community occurred with the 1954 Triennale where his cardboard dome was displayed for the first time. The Milan Triennale was established to stage international exhibitions aimed to present the most innovative accomplishments in the fields of design, crafts, architecture and city planning.

The theme for 1954 was Life Between Artifact and Nature: Design and the Environmental Challenge which fit in perfectly with Bucky’s work. Bucky had begun efforts towards the development of a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science which he defined as, "the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet." The cardboard shelter that was part of his exhibit could be easily shipped and assembled with the directions printed right on the cardboard. The 42-foot paperboard Geodesic was installed in old Sforza garden in Milan and came away with the highest award, the Gran Premio.

Fuller’s domes gained world wide attention upon his Italian premiere and by that time the U.S. military had already begun to explore the options of using domes in their military projects because they needed speedy but strong housing for soldiers overseas. With the interest of the military and coming away from the 1954 Triennale with the Gran Premio, domes began to gain in public appeal and exposure.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
R. Buckminster Fuller Biography   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today
by J. Baldwin / Paperback: 256 pages /  John Wiley & Sons (1997)
He was an early proponent of geodesic domes--semispherical structures made up of incredibly light and extremely strong triangular components--which he recommended for economical and energy-efficient housing and other purposes
Engineering a New Architecture
by Tony Robbin / Hardcover: 138 pages / Yale Univ Pr (1996)
We are entering a period, says Tony Robbin, when engineering is the unrecognized avant-garde in architectural design, a period in which new materials and structural systems create new aesthetic principles.

Dome Living: A Creative Guide For Planning Your Monolithic Dream Home
by David B. South, Freda Grones / Paperback: 164 pages  / Monolithic Dome Institute ( 2000)
"Dome Living" explains the reasons behind the Monolithic Dome's advantages: its superior strength and longevity; its ability to survive severe weather, earthquakes and fire; its economical and conservative energy use; its cost efficiency for long term maintenance and upkeep; its graceful, spherical beauty so appropriate to a dream home!

ON THE WEB:
About the Fly’s Eye
In 1961 Fuller applied for U.S. Patent #3197927, to introduce his Monohex structures which he called "Fly’s Eye" domes. In 1975 Bucky commissioned John Warren to investigate the design and to prototype the Fly’s Eye domes in fiberglass.
(URL: www.bfi.org/Trimtab/spring02/bfinews.htm)
ASM Headquarters Dome
With its great arching dome and its semi-circular office building, the ASM International Headquarters conveys the imaginative force that marks ASM. One outstanding feature of the building is the geodesic dome or "space lattice" designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. A symbol of man’s mastery of his metal resources, the open-work dome made of extruded aluminum stands 103 feet high and 250 feet in diameter, weighs 80 tons and contains more than 65,000 parts.
(URL: www.asminternational.org//content/AboutASM/MaterialsPark/MaterialsPark.htm
)
Affordable Housing
Fuller wanted to use the techniques of mass production in creating efficient affordable shelter for the millions of people who needed it around the world.
(URL: www.bfi.org/domes/index.htm)
Buckminster Fuller Institute Photo Gallery
In November, 2001 with the help of over 25 volunteers, the BFI raised Buckminster Fuller’s original prototype 26-foot Fly’s Eye dome. This dome and its sister 50-foot dome, along with all of the molds, were donated to BFI by Fuller’s family in 1995. This past November we tackled the project of moving them north and out of storage in Santa Barbara.
(URL: www.bfi.org/gallery/FlysEyeDome
)
P.A.T.H
The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing
(URL: www.pathnet.org)


HOW IT WORKS:
One of the ways Buckminster Fuller ("Bucky") would describe the differences in strength between a rectangle and a triangle would be to apply pressure to both structures. The rectangle would fold up and be unstable but the triangle withstands the pressure and is much more rigid–in fact the triangle is twice as strong. This principle directed his studies toward creating a new architectural design, the geodesic dome, based also upon his idea of "doing more with less." Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.

The sphere uses the "doing more with less" principle in that it encloses the largest volume of interior space with the least amount of surface area thus saving on materials and cost. Fuller reintroduced the idea that when the sphere’s diameter is doubled it will quadruple its square footage and produce eight times the volume.

The spherical structure of a dome is one of the most efficient interior atmospheres for human dwellings because air and energy are allowed to circulate without obstruction. This enables heating and cooling to occur naturally. Geodesic shelters have been built all around the world in different climates and temperatures and still they have proven to be the most efficient human shelter one can find.

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 9, 2006.
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AT A GLANCE:
Geodesic Dome
The lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised. The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other enclosure.
Year: 1954
Patent: U.S. Patent 3, 197,927 Mr Fuller was awarded 25 U.S. patents
Inventor: R. Buckminster Fuller
Birth: Milton, Massachusetts, July 12,1895
Death: July 1, 1983
Keywords: dome, geodesic dome, fuller, buckminster fuller, r buckminster fuller, dymaxion map, dymaxion car, spaceship earth, invention, facts, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.