Buckminster Fuller Developed Geodesic Dome Design at Black Mountain, Raleigh

Buckminster Fuller (far left) with colleagues at Black Mountain College. Image from the State Archives

Buckminster Fuller (far left) with colleagues at Black Mountain College.
Image from the State Archives

On February 23, 1983, Buckminster Fuller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, for his contributions as a geometrician, educator and architect-designer.

“Bucky” Fuller’s application of synergetic geometry to geodesic structures took root at Black Mountain College in Buncombe County. During the 1949 summer session at Black Mountain, Fuller erected, with his students and colleagues, the prototype “Autonomous Dwelling Facility with a Geodesic Structure.”

A geodesic dome at Black Mountain College.
Image from the State Archives

As a guest lecturer at the North Carolina State University School of Architecture from 1949 to1955, Fuller worked with his students to design uses of the geodesic dome for a cotton mill, military installations and the Ford Motor Company. He patented the structure in 1954. Fuller received an honorary Doctor of Design degree from N.C. State in 1954. After leaving academia, Fuller served as president of the Raleigh architecture firm Synergetics from 1955 to 1959, where colleagues and students created sustainable commercial domes.

The Buckminster Fuller Institute has now identified more than 300,000 geodesic domes around the world, ranging from shelters to radar stations to playground structures.

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