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Mighty Buildings to 3D Print Visitors Center alongside Buckminster Fuller’s Dome Home

3D Systems

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Mighty Buildings, the Oakland-based additive construction (AC) firm specializing in prefabricated, climate-resilient homes, has partnered with the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home Not-For-Profit to 3D print a visitors center and museum in Carbondale, Illinois. R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller lived in the R. Buckminster Fuller and Anne Hewlett Dome Home — affectionately called the Bucky Dome — with his wife off-and-on between 1960 and 1971, during the periods when he was teaching at Southern Illinois University (SIU).

The visitors center/museum will be located adjacent to the Bucky Dome, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Mighty Buildings collaborated with Thad Heckman of the architecture firm Design Works to create parametric panels that reflect Fuller’s signature geodesic design embodied in the Bucky Dome. The museum will thus not only serve to inform visitors about Fuller’s legacy, but will indeed encapsulate that legacy in its very structure.

Mighty Buildings’ factory in Monterrey, Mexico

In a press release about Mighty Buildings’ work on the 3D printed visitors center for the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home, the lead architect working on the project, Thad Heckman, said, “Preserving Buckminster Fuller’s legacy while pushing the boundaries of sustainable design has been an incredible honor. Through our collaboration with Mighty Buildings, this project represents a bridge between the past and the future, inviting visitors to explore the rich history of architectural innovation and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.”
Mighty Buildings’ CEO, Scott Gebicke, said, “We are proud to partner with the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Not-for-Profit in creating a sustainable future in harmony with Fuller’s masterful vision. The design of our parametric panels pays tribute to his groundbreaking work while showcasing the capabilities of 3D printing in construction. Together, we are advancing the cause of sustainable architecture combined with advanced construction technology.”

Most famously on display at Disney’s EPCOT in Orlando, Florida, the geodesic dome was perfected by Fuller in 1947 and is the quintessential symbol of his life’s work as a disruptive architect. One of the twentieth-century’s most original thinkers, “making high performance shelter available to all humanity” was at the core of Fuller’s mission, as he wrote in his 1981 book, Critical Path.

In one characteristically Bucky section of Critical Path, Fuller goes into great detail describing a plan to construct shelters he dubbed the “Fly’s Eye” domes, which he anticipated could be dropped via helicopter into areas of the world most urgently in need of shelter. While this may not have literally panned out, the spirit of that plan is alive in the intentions of many of the forward-thinking companies constituting the burgeoning AC market segment, and perhaps Mighty Buildings, most of all.

While Mighty Buildings’ prefab, net-zero homes may not be geodesic, Fuller would no doubt recognize the affinity between his most deeply held convictions as an engineer, and Mighty Buildings’ drive to make the widespread availability of affordable, energy-efficient shelters a reality. Moreover, collaborating with the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home organization will allow new generations of innovators to experience directly Fuller’s legacy for themselves, breathing new inspiration into exactly the sort of minds that can someday build on the foundation Mighty Buildings is now establishing.

Images courtesy of Mighty Buildings

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