• Image of Buckminster Fuller's artwork, "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere"

    Photo: Jeff Miller

  • Image of Buckminster Fuller's artwork, "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere"

    Photo: Jeff Miller

  • Image of Buckminster Fuller's artwork, "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere"

    Photo: Bryce Richter

  • Image of Buckminster Fuller's artwork, "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere"
  • Image of Buckminster Fuller's artwork, "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere"
  • Image of Buckminster Fuller's artwork, "Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere"

R. Buckminster Fuller

(American, 1895-1983)

Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere

1979
Stainless steel and wire
9 ft. diameter
Donated by Leah “Lee” Temkin and family in memory of Blair “Bud” Tempkin

Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere by Buckminster Fuller is both a feat of engineering and an object of beauty. Wire individually snakes through sixty stainless steel tubes, suspending them in a icosahedral (20 face) form. Tensional integrity, or tensegrity - a term coined by Fuller - is a structural-relationship principle. Each steel tube stabilizes the others by balancing forces of compression and tension. The scale of this floating compression is awe-inspiring. Suspended high in the center of an atrium, Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere is nine feet in diameter and weighs 500 pounds. Despite its heft, the sculpture appears light, airy, and delicate.

Considered “the first poet of technology,” Fuller was a visionary inventor, engineer, architect, and artist. His lifelong interest in technology’s ability to revolutionize construction methods resulted in innovative new forms for buildings. The geodesic dome, a structure designed to enclose the maximum internal volume with the minimum amount of structure possible, was his biggest commercial success. Fuller’s global humanitarian aims are at the core of his inventions. Each of his innovations sought to consider the world’s problems. In this vein, he was an early advocate for conservation of resources and motivated individuals to think comprehensively about the planet.

Location

Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere is located in the south atrium of the Engineering Centers Building, near the Engineering Drive entrance.

Bibliography

The Buckminster Fuller Institute.

UW-Madison College of Engineering, Perspective Vol. 26, Spring 2000, "R. Buckminster Fuller sculpture to hang in Engineering Centers Building."

UW-Madison College of Engineering News Archive, "Buckminster Fuller sculpture installed in new Engineering Centers Building."

Hays, Michael K. and Dana Miller. Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe. New York: Whitney Museum of Art, in association with Yale University Press, 2008.

Gorman, John Michael. Buckminster Fuller: Designing for Mobility. Milan: Skira, 2005.

Pawley, Martin. Buckminster Fuller. New York: Taplinger Publishing Co., 1990.