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SIC logo R. Buckminster Fuller Design Models (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)

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Fuller model

The R. Buckminster Fuller Design Models is a collection of 153 scale models depicting R. Buckminster Fuller's mathematical principles as structural concepts. The models are constructed of wood, steel, wire, paper, or plastic, and range from toy-size simple units to 30-inch double-layered spheres composed of open triangles illustrating his open theory of "tensegrity," a word built from tension and integrity. They were created by Charles B. Ryan circa 1961-1962, who at the time was an associate professor of fine arts at the University of Oregon. Upon completion, Ryan shipped the models to either Buckminster Fuller's house in Carbondale or the Department of Design at Southern Illinois University. Morris Library acquired the models in 1963.

Fuller, who was a professor of design at Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 1959-1972, became acquainted with Ryan during a lecture visit at the University of Oregon. In a 1990s interview with SIUC photographer Herb Meyer, Ryan recalled Fuller wanted a set of models based on his mathematical and philosophical concepts for teaching purposes. Ryan learned of this and arranged with Fuller to build the models for which he was paid $500. It is unclear to what extent Fuller used the models during lectures and teaching. Information about the models and the names of the mathematical concepts they depict are limited, therefore many images in this collection are titled "untitled."


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