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    Bucky Fuller History and Mystery

    by D.W. Jacobs

    The visionary inventor R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), who called himself a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," was respected in many disciplines. In architecture, he is perhaps best known for having invented the geodesic dome structure, as executed for example, in the U.S. Pavilion at Expo '67. Now, 20 years after his death, the legendary raconteur returns to life in a one-man show in San Francisco. "The History (and Mystery) of the Universe" was written by D.W. Jacobs, based on Fuller's own writings and lectures, and is performed by Ron Campbell. Editor

    "...now, applying these general principles of universe to the problems of design " He pauses, hands together. An image appears of the 4D Tower House. "The 4D Tower House grew from my thinking of housing as shelters that could be mass-produced and delivered anyplace as a finished dwelling. Designed to be carried by the Graf Zeppelin, it's perfectly flyable to the North Pole."

    As he talks, he draws attention to each design feature. In the background is sales-showroom music as if he's doing a sales pitch. "The 4D single-family dwelling has good size bedrooms, bath, large living room, utility room, library, sundeck, hangar on top, and garage below. The bathroom: a model of functionality and conservation. The toilets require no water a splashless, hermetic, and waterproof packaging system which packs, stores, and cartons human waste for future use by chemical industries."

    The music fades out. "In 1928, I offered to assign all rights to the American Institute of Architects. They turned me down, saying they were: 'inherently opposed to any peas-in-a-pod reproducible designs.'"

    Roam Home to a Dome (excerpt)
    (sung to the tune of "Home on the Range")

    Let the architects sing of aesthetics that bring
    Rich clients in hordes to their knees,
    Just give me a home in a great circle dome
    Where the stresses and strains are at ease.

    Roam home to a dome
    On the crest of a neighboring hill
    Where the chores are all done, before they're begun
    And eclectic nonsense is nil.

    "There are logical things that can be and should be done for all of humanity... it might really seem very spontaneous and it's what you just do like the crew of a ship when the ship's in danger.

    "Spaceship Earth's in danger. Find out what needs to be done. Reform the environment, not man. That is... the design responsibility. The architects are not doing anything just: I'll make a pretty picture and everything will be all right! Who's taking up the design responsibility?

    "Only the individual can learn to set aside greed and fear and plunge into the design science revolution."

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    D.W. Jacobs is an award-winning director, writer, actor, teacher and producer, with a background nearly as wide-ranging as Fuller's, in science, mathematics, literature, international relations, and political geography.

    This excerpt from "The History (and Mystery) of the Universe" is republished with permission of the author. Song excerpt The Estate of Buckminster Fuller, all rights reserved, courtesy of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. The play runs at the Project Artaud Theater in San Francisco until August 24, 2003. Presented by Foghouse Productions.

     

    AW

    ArchWeek Image

    Ron Campbell performs a one-man show in "R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe."
    Photo: Jeff Rowlings

    ArchWeek Image

    U.S. Pavilion at Expo '67 by Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao, Montreal, Canada.
    Great Buildings Photo 1993 Lawrence A. Martin

    ArchWeek Image

    Ron Campbell plays Buckminster Fuller.
    Photo: Jeff Rowlings

    ArchWeek Image

    Detail of the geodesic dome at the U.S. Pavilion at Expo '67.
    Great Buildings Photo 1993 Lawrence A. Martin

     

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