Definitions Series: R. Buckminster Fuller: World Man

February 25, 2014



Storefront presented Definitions Series: R. Buckminster Fuller: World Man with Stan Allen, Alejandro Zaera-Polo, and Daniel López-Pérez for a conversation about some of the key terms that constitute the body of Fuller’s “World Man” lecture and book. “Prime Design, Automation, Law of Conservation of Energy, Wealth, Universe, System, Total Challenge…” are amongst a few of the terms and definitions that are put forth providing an abstract but suggestive outline of Fuller’s “geometry of thinking.”


For R. Buckminster Fuller, words and concepts were intimately related. “[T]he Number of the words in the dictionary grow,” he asserted in his “World Man” lecture, “because we have more aspects of subjects to consider.” Fuller saw language as an invaluable resource – as a tool to be used not only for sharing ideas with others but also for developing ideas. Language was not an end in itself but rather a discursive process, through which he created and explored new concepts. Iterative and evolving, like his models of nature’s laws, Fuller’s terminology never becomes static, his words and concepts move and extend from one area of relevance to another; from the scale of the human body, to that of the universe.


This event was open to all. 


About the Book

R. Buckminster Fuller: World Man presents the original typescript of Fuller’s never-before-published Kenneth Stone Kassler memorial Lecture. Delivered at the Princeton university school of Architecture in 1966 – a year before his masterwork took shape at Expo ’67 in Montreal – the lecture encapsulates his radical thinking at the height of his career. Reflecting on the severe challenges facing the global ecology, Fuller delivers an impassioned rallying cry to architects to shape their universe by responding to its underlying principles – a cry as relevant today as it was in the visionary designer’s own time.

About the participants

Stan Allen is an architect and George Dutton ’27 Professor of architectural Design at the Princeton University School of Architecture, where he served as dean from 2002 to 2012. His practice, SAA/Stan Allen Architect, has realized buildings and projects from single family houses to urban master plans, in the United States and abroad. The extensive catalog of architectural and urban strategies he developed to respond to the complexity of the modern city is presented in Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City (1999), and his essays are collected in Practice: architecture, technique and representation (2009). His most recent book is Landform Building: Architecture’s New Terrain (2011).


Alejandro Zaera-Polo is Dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture. The internationally renowned architect and scholar previously served as dean of the Berlage institute in Rotterdam, occupied the Berlage Chair at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and held the Norman R. Foster Visiting Professorship of Architectural Design at Yale University. Widely published in leading journals, such as El Croquis, Quaderns, and A+U, his essays are collected in The Sniper’s Log: An Architectural Perspective of Generation – X (2012). The award-winning work of Zaera-Polo’s firm, AZPA, includes the Yokohama International Port Terminal in Japan, distinguished by its dramatic form and innovative use of materials.


Daniel López-Pérez is an Assistant Professor of Architectural Design and a founding faculty member of the Architecture Program at the University of San Diego. López-Pérez received a Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University, a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design (with Honors) from Columbia University, and an AA Diploma from the Architectural Association. A Fuller Scholar, López-Pérez is currently completing the manuscript of a book entitled From Spheres to Atmospheres, R. Buckminster Fuller’s Spherical Atlas, 1944–1980.