building. We heard about Harlow Shapley, the red shift, and generalization. We learned that the earth was gaining weight, according to astrophysicist Arthur Eddington, 100,000 tons a day to be exact. 100,000 tons of “stardust” according to Bucky. We covered the elements in the periodic table, discussed automation, and learned about sphere packing. Bucky riffed on closest packing of spheres in various containers and wondered out loud how tetrahedrons and octahedrons might arrange themselves spontaneously in way analogous to closest packing of spheres. That was what we heard about on that first day of our own private Buckminster Fuller lecture series. That’s an overview of what we tried to absorb that day. Actually, that was just a brief outline of about half of what we heard. At the end of that first day, Bucky finally mentioned our classroom that had taken two-months to construct. “Everything is design,” Bucky said, “good design includes cleaning the toilet sometimes.” He continued, “This morning I had to clean the sink and toilet in the bathroom before I could use them. That’s what took so long.” As we had finished up the classroom we had cleaned our paint brushes and rollers in the bathroom sink and had stuffed our cleaning and construction leftovers in the old shower with nary a thought of bathroom cleanliness.

Bucky’s Carbondale Office

A few years later I was working in Bucky’s headquarters at the corner of Mill St. and S. University Ave. in Carbondale. Bucky seldom was in the office but it the nerve center of his world wide operations. All year long, Bucky flew back and forth around the world speaking to groups of students, architects, economists, planners, government officials, and the like. On the three or four occasions a year when Bucky visited the office he’d only stay for a few hours. The office staff consisted of Naomi Wallace who arranged his air travel and handled his correspondence and Dale Klaus his right hand man. John McHale and Carl Nelson worked in the back room on the World Design Science Decade (WDSD) project, Bucky’s archives, and various writing projects. I worked in Bucky’s office for a couple of years reading and clipping articles from the New York Times, scanning magazines for “trend” articles, and creating animated graphics of population and energy trends. I think Bucky came into the office just one time during my tenure. I remember the day because everybody was keyed up. Naomi was looking anxious, Dale appeared stressed as he attempted to organize 3-months of Bucky’s correspondence, John was editing drafts and making last minute corrections, while  Carl was straightening-up around the office. Naomi had a special project for me; would I help her clean the bathroom? It seems that Bucky had a thing about cleanliness and if things weren’t “just right,” he’d take care of it himself and let you know about it afterwards. The office bathroom was typical mid-century American; dark-walnut plywood veneer paneling, walnut-stained pine trim, and linoleum tile all cobbled together with a standard white sink and toilet. It was cheap, easy to build, poorly lit, with no thought given to sanitation. It was not “a machine for living;” and it bore no
Design at Southern Illinois University
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