A visitor center is planned for Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome house

A visitor center using 3D printing technology is planned at the site of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome house in Carbondale, Illinois. (courtesy Mighty Buildings)

Buckminster Fuller first introduced the concept of the geodesic dome at the 1954 Milan Triennale as a large cardboard model. The show turned into a career-long examination of spherical housing models and energy-efficient construction methods. Fuller eventually resided in one of his realized designs for several years. Today, the nonprofit that runs Buckeye Dome, Fuller’s residence from 1960 to 1971, has plans to create a visitor center and museum on the site.

The idea for a visitor center at Fuller’s self-designed house in Carbondale, Illinois, goes back more than 20 years: In 1990, one of Fuller’s students, Harry Frederick William Burke, purchased his former mentor’s home with a vision of a place where the public could learn about the design. , Fuller’s legacy, and the ahead-of-his-time methods pioneered by his mentor. Burke started the non-profit R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home Project and raised money to restore the dome and begin construction on the visitor center. (Burke died in 2019.)

The 2,400-square-foot visitor center and museum will be designed for the site by architect Thad Hickman of Design Works in partnership with Mighty Buildings, a housing builder that uses prefabricated and 3D printing systems. It will be placed on the property so that the classrooms, archive storeroom and library can be in dialogue with the Bucky Dome. In addition to research and exhibition space, the new 3D-printed visitor center will also contain a gift shop and kitchenette.

Similar to Fuller’s designs, the Visitor Center takes into account innovative construction methods and sustainable practices. He supports Fuller’s principle of “doing more with less.” In designing geodesic domes, Fuller found structures capable of maximizing interior space while using the least amount of surface area. This same principle is applied in 3D printing, a building system that has proven effective in reducing construction waste.

The Buckminster Fuller Dome House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was recently restored. (Communityhelper1000/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

“3D printing also provides the ability to deliver complex geometric designs, a characteristic that is emblematic of Fuller’s architectural heritage,” said Chris Murphy, chief strategy officer at Mighty Buildings. that. “His geodesic domes embody a combination of engineering ingenuity and structural efficiency.”

The visitor center will be constructed as a low-slung structure covered in “parametric panels” designed by Hickman that draw from patterns found in Fuller’s original designs. The panels will be 3D printed off-site and then assembled on-site. The Mighty Builds Mighty Kit System — a set of prefabricated building kits consisting of a superstructure, 3D-printed panels, insulation, steel framing, doors and windows — will be used to build the visitor center. By using assembled construction parts and materials, the project aims to reduce construction time and reduce waste on the construction site.

Relaxing construction schedules and thinking about construction waste are deeply rooted in Fuller’s original blueprints and remain applicable today.

“His advocacy for resource conservation, design efficiency and innovative problem solving continues to be an important source of inspiration in addressing today’s environmental and housing challenges,” Murphy added. “This project is a tribute to Fuller’s legacy, demonstrating how his design philosophies can be applied using modern technology to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the built environment.”

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