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PRINT November 2008

THOM MAYNE

Morphosis, Phare Tower (detail), 2007, Paris. Rendering.

I HEARD R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER SPEAK at UCLA years ago, when I was in my early twenties. It was hilarious, a nonstop non sequitur that started at eight o’clock at night, and—although I left at around three—lasted until five or six in the morning, when Fuller and the dozen or so remaining students went out for breakfast. I guess that was standard fare.

Fuller did everything wrong. But he made that work for him. A total autodidact, he was both an inventor and a tinkerer in a very American sense. This combination gave him an uncanny ability to anticipate so much, including the complete rethinking of design using modern technology. He was, for instance, able to apply the efficient logic of car making to the industry of house construction, rejecting the arcane use of building codes in favor of specialization and mass production. Similarly, when Fuller invented the term

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