Buckminster Fuller – Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere

R. Buckminster Fuller

(American, 1895-1983)

Sixty-Strut Tensegrity Sphere

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.


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


The Buckminster Fuller Institute.

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

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.

"Sixty Strut Tensegrity Sphere," a nine-foot diameter sculpture made of stainless steel tubing and wire