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Bucky Fuller and Sustainability

09-20-2015, 01:02 PM #1
Robert Baird
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Wouldn't Bucky love seeing how trite and clichéd it is to talk about what he began a passionate cry for in the 1960s? Sustainability may be a word on people's lips and an ethic which time has arrived but it won't overcome the many issues Bucky so ardently saw facing humanity.

 Bucky saw a lot of consciousness in all things, he knew each atom participated in the artist's rendering of beauty when he said Michelangelo released the Statue of David from the bonds of chemical and physical constraints.

 "As an architectural achievement, the Biosphere epitomizes Fuller’s idealization of the promise of technology. Through holistic consideration, systemization and mass-production, he saw this project as an example of how architects could wield and deploy the instruments of innovation to create new species of hyper-efficient machines for the good of mankind. The beauty of the Biosphere’s pure geometries was an aesthetic bonus, the intentional but subordinate success of a functionalist and ethical pursuit. However, the capacity of the structure to communicate this message of optimism-through-optimization may have been lost on those who sought and struggled to find practical applications for Fuller’s invention. Although shell structures have endured as standard devices in the international architectural repertoire, geodesic domes in particular never achieved the mass-adoption Fuller hoped for, and his idealistic labors translated into few tangible gains for the human condition he sought to improve.

 Unfortunately, Fuller’s uniquely hopeful philosophy about the power of the architect and the potential of technology was met with the same reception of intrigued skepticism that befell his dome. In response to the social upheavals of the late 1960s and the increasingly apparent failures of modernism, theorists in particular began to turn away from ethical positivism and humanism in general in their search for deeper meaning in architecture. Soon, with the widespread arrival of post-structural theory and its devolutions, the belief Fuller held in the primacy of an architectural moral imperative was all but abandoned by his peers. After the fire of 1976, the scarred Biosphere was abandoned and sealed off from the public, a tragic monument to a bygone era of hope and idealism.

 In 1990, after nearly fifteen years of disuse, the Biosphere was purchased by the Canadian government and re-purposed as an environmental exhibition space, dedicated to promoting an understanding of the St. Lawrence River and the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. It was a fitting tribute to Fuller, who has been widely recognized as one of the first architects to bring the concept of sustainability into widespread use. The rebirth of the Biosphere also heralded the emergence of sustainability theory as a realignment of architectural thought with the worldly concerns that the academe had since discounted, validating Fuller’s tireless advocacy of an architectural profession grounded in service to nature and humanity."


Bucky was an early author on the matter of our universe. Up until the moment he had written his book mankind thought our galaxy was all there was. Looking back we can almost laugh at how stupid we were. It almost equals the supposed thinking that the Pope was the center of the universe and other Ussher crap which earlier in the 20th Century was still being taught in most schools. I should clarify what I mean; schools were still teaching that humans in the 16th Century and before believed in a Flat Earth with monsters at it's edge. That was never true! It was true that the church tried to enforce that nonsense and paid the likes of Cosmos Indicopleustas to say it. But I doubt Cosmos actually believed it because he was a mariner.

 Today we are breaking ground on the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii. It will be a powerful addition to our search for other sentient life and places we can colonize. Hawking says that by the end of this century mankind could be extinct if we don't colonize space. THAT is the real sustainability we all should be concerned about, and why we need a plan which addresses all inequities in a pragmatic approach to creative and productive progress.


 The heart of shamanism is captured a little in this story from my nephews. It is a good read unlike my dense thought-provocation or what has been called rolling-thunder. I think Bucky would enjoy seeing his geodesic domes still stand at old DEW Line sites from the Cold War. My nephews faced a real COLD war!
This post was last modified: 09-20-2015, 01:03 PM by Robert Baird.
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09-20-2015, 01:11 PM #2
Robert Baird
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I cannot say there is a more influential person not including my father than Bucky Fuller was for me. I suppose Socrates is one - but unfortunately we have to hear about him through his students and though it has been hard for me to understand the books of Fuller - at least I had them.

There are good heroes and bad heroes - I once thought Churchill and MacArthur were heroes.