did.” Bucky still hadn’t mentioned the special classroom that we had spent two months planning and 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
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
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
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
Design at Southern Illinois University