Richard Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster Fuller (often shortened to R. Buckminster Fuller, also called Bucky Fuller; born July 12, 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts; † July 1, 1983 in Los Angeles) was a U.S. architect, engineer, visionary, designer, philosopher, and writer.

Richard Buckminster Fuller Portrait
Richard Buckminster Fuller Portrait
Richard Buckminster Fuller in 1970
Richard Buckminster Fuller in 1970


Fuller came from a wealthy family. He was one of four children of leather goods merchant Richard Buckminster Fuller and his wife Caroline Wolcott Andrews. He was also the great-nephew of Margaret Fuller, an American journalist and civil rights activist. His cousin was the journalist and writer John Phillips Marquand, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 for his novel The Blessed Mister Apley.

In 1914, he met Anne Hewlett (1896-1983), daughter of prominent New York architect James Monroe Hewlett. The two married in New York on July 12, 1917, his 22nd birthday. They had two daughters, Alexandra (1918-1923) and Allegra (1927-2021). Alexandra died at age four of polio and spinal meningitis. Allegra Fuller Snyder founded the Board of Directors of the Buckminster Fuller Institute and became its president.

He began studying at Harvard in 1912, but dropped out and became a Marine. By 1927, at the age of 32, he was bankrupt and without employment and close to taking his own life after the death of his first child. He decided to see the rest of his life as an experiment: He wanted to determine what a single person could contribute to changing the world for the benefit of humanity. He began to document his life meticulously in a diary, which he then kept for half a century.

After several jobs in industry, including in the export department of a meat processing company, he began working as an architect. In the late twenties he had some success with new building concepts, which he presented to the public under the name Dymaxion (Dymaxion globe). Other designs of energy and/or material efficient structures (for example, a streamlined car, a bathroom, Tensegrity) followed, were patented and some were also marketed under the trademark Dymaxion. In 1970, Fuller was elected a member (NA) of the National Academy of Design.

Fuller became known for his domes or geodesic domes, also called Fuller domes, which can usually be seen at exhibitions, in science fiction films or as part of military installations (radar domes), and which he built in 1948 with students at Black Mountain College as a project study together with Josef Albers. The most famous is the Biosphère, the United States' exhibition pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. Roller coasters have also found a home in these spheres (for example, the Eurosat at Europa-Park near Rust). They are based on a further development of the simplest geometric basic bodies (tetrahedron as 3-simplex, octahedron and densest sphere packings) and are extremely stable and can be realized with the least amount of material. The design principle was patented in 1954. His Fly's Eye Dome, designed starting in 1965, is equally well known.

Fuller was one of the first to see the workings of nature as continuous systemic workings under economic principles (material and energy efficiency and the associated tendency toward ephemeralization). Another important aspect for him was the discovery of usable synergies, a term he helped to coin.

He worked as a designer, scientist, researcher, developer and writer, propagating global and cosmic views early on, as in "Operating Instructions for Spaceship Earth." He examined the meaning of life in the modern age with the question of the "integral function of man in the universe". His methods and technical constructions developed in later years try to develop minimal principles in the fields of technology in order to provide means for the sustainable further development of our civilization to avoid the "cosmic bankruptcy" of mankind. This purpose was also served by the propagation of the World Game, which - in contrast to conflict simulations - should practically demonstrate how spontaneous cooperation can improve the life of all people.

R. Buckminster Fuller died in Los Angeles in 1983, less than 36 hours before his wife Anne. Their grave is in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Awards and honors

In 1968 he became a professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and later at the University of Pennsylvania. Fuller received 47 honorary doctorates and over 100 awards and prizes between 1954 and 1981.

The third known elemental modification of carbon, the fullerenes, whose chemical structure is reminiscent of his domes, was named after him. The best-studied fullerene to date, C60, is also known as the Buckminster fullerene or Bucky ball.

Fuller was a member and later chairman of Mensa International, an association for the highly gifted. He was also inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1963 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1968.

In 2004, the United States Postal Service honored him with a stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the patenting of geodesic domes.


  • 2011: MARTa Herford: Bucky Fuller & Spaceship Earth and We Are All Astronauts. Universe Richard Buckminster Fuller in the mirror of contemporary art


American artist Matthew Day Jackson paid tribute to Fuller by creating a wooden portrait of Bucky with an eye inlaid of mother-of-pearl in 2007. The object was sold at Christie's in New York in 2010 to the jeweler Laurence Graff.


Concepts and buildings include :

1928 Dymaxion House
1933 Dymaxion Car
1937 Prefabricated Compact Wet Room
1940 World Maps
1943 Geodesic Building
1948 Aluminum house With spherical Plexiglas outer shell manufactured by Beech Aircraft (1948): wedge-shaped living room of 34 m², three other wedge-shaped rooms, two bathrooms, a pantry with refrigerator, a laundry room, three toilets, a corridor; weight 3 tons
1949 Tensegrity Structures
1953 Geodesic Dome for Ford Motor Company
1954 Patent on Geodesic Domes
1961 World Peace Game strategy game as an alternative to war games with the goal of general world peace without ecological destruction

Publications (selection)

  • Nine Chains to the Moon. J. B. Lippincott, New York 1938
  • Education automation. Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies. Doubleday, Garden City, 1960
  • Education industry. Prospectus of universal planning and instruction. Edition Voltaire, Berlin 1970
  • Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville 1969, Online at Buckminster Fuller Institute website (Memento of December 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive), version of December 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive.
  • Operating instructions for spaceship Earth and other writings. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1973, ISBN 3-499-25013-6; modified new edition: Verlag der Kunst, Amsterdam/Dresden 1998, ISBN 90-5705-015-3
  • The Prospect for Humanity. In: Saturday Review. 1964
  • The Prospect for Humanity. 1965-1985. Edition Voltaire, Frankfurt/Berlin 1968
  • Utopia or oblivion. Jargon Press, Highlands 1969
  • Concrete Utopia. The crisis of mankind and its chance to survive. Econ-Verlag, Düsseldorf/Vienna 1974, ISBN 3-430-12994-X
  • Intuition. Anchor & Doubleday, Garden City 1971
  • Synergetics. Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (with E. J. Applewhite). Macmillan, New York 1975/79
  • Tetrascroll. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A Cosmic Fairy Tale. Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip 1975
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A Fairy Tale Explains the Modern Worldview in the Space Age = Tetrascroll. DuMont, Cologne 1983, ISBN 3-7701-1515-5
  • Critical Path. St. Martin's Press, New York 1981
  • Grunch of Giants. Gross Universal Cash Heist. (Memento of March 16, 2010 in the Internet Archive) St. Martin's Press, New York 1983.
  • Grunch. Raid of the Giants. VAP, Wiesbaden 1985, ISBN 3-922367-15-1
  • Cosmography. A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (with Kiyoshi Kuromiya). Macmillan, New York 1992, ISBN 0-02-541850-5.
  • Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (Series Editor Jaime Snyder), Lars Müller Publishers, Baden/CH 2010, ISBN 978-3-03778-198-2


  • Jürgen Claus, "Die strukturelle Geometrie Buckminster Fullers," in: Jürgen Claus, "Expansion der Kunst," rowohlts deutsche enzyklopädie, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1970, ISBN 3-499-55334-1, pp. 24 ff.
  • Amy C. Edmondson: A Fuller Explanation. The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller. (Memento of October 2, 2003 in the Internet Archive) Birkhäuser, Boston 1987, ISBN 0-8176-3338-3.
  • Joachim Krausse & Claude Lichtenstein (eds.): Your Private Sky. R. Buckminster Fuller. Design as the Art of a Science. Müller, Baden 2000, ISBN 3-907044-93-2 (exhibition catalog of the Museum für Gestaltung Zurich).
  • Joachim Krausse & Claude Lichtenstein (eds.): Your Private Sky. R. Buckminster Fuller. Discourse. Müller, Baden 2000, ISBN 3-907044-95-9 (supplementary volume to the exhibition catalog).
  • K. Michael Hays, Dana A. Miller (eds.): Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe. Yale University Press (Whitney Museum of American Art) New York 2008, ISBN 0-300-12620-4
  • Christof Kehr (ed.): We Are All Astronauts. Universe Richard Buckminster Fuller in the Mirror of Contemporary Art, Bielefeld 2011 ISBN 978-3-86678-576-2
  • Elena Ochoa Foster (ed.): Dymaxion Car: Buckminster Fuller, Ivory Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-9564339-3-0
  • Kolja Reichert, Everything is getting better and better, FAS No. 5/2018 of February 4, 2018, p. 44


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Buckminster Fuller
Dymaxion Car
Dymaxion House
Geodesic Dome
Geodesic Domes
High-Tech Architecture
Norman Foster
Richard Buckminster Fuller
Richard Rogers
Structural Expressionism


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