ArchitectureConstruction 3D Printing

Mighty Buildings to 3D print Buckminster Fuller’s ‘Dome Home’

The new visitor center and museum will be located at the site of the legendary architect’s iconic "Bucky Dome" home, in Carbondale, Illinois

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The R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home Not-For-Profit and Mighty Buildings, a 3D printing construction technology company, are set to jointly design and develop a new visitor center and museum at the site of the legendary architect’s iconic “Bucky Dome” home. Located in Carbondale, IL, this holds its place on the National Register of Historic Places, and has captivated visitors for decades. The joint project is intended to connect Fuller’s impressive legacy to innovations that represent the future of sustainable building, thanks to Mighty Buildings’ new materials and offsite 3D printing construction methodologies.

R. Buckminster Fuller, celebrated as a pioneer in architectural innovation, called the Bucky Dome “home” from 1960 to 1971. Today, it stands as a symbol of his visionary work, with a recent restoration breathing new life into it.

One of the next phases of the restoration project is the construction of a state-of-the-art 2,400 square-foot visitor center and museum, designed by architect Thad Heckman of Design Works, that will be erected adjacent to the Bucky Dome. The museum aims to educate visitors about the profound legacy of Buckminster Fuller while exploring the future of architecture and sustainable building.

“Preserving Buckminster Fuller’s legacy while pushing the boundaries of sustainable design has been an incredible honor,” said Thad Heckman. “Through our collaboration with Mighty Buildings, this project represents a bridge between the past and the future, inviting visitors to explore the rich history of architectural innovation and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.”

Mighty Buildings to 3D print Buckminster Fuller’s 'Dome Home' - located at the site of his iconic "Bucky Dome" home, in Carbondale, Illinois.
Mighty Buildings’ 3D printing technology.

Mighty Buildings has worked alongside Mr. Heckman to create parametric panels that pay homage to the Dome Home’s original design. These panels, which emulate the geodesic geometry Fuller pioneered, will be 3D printed offsite and assembled on location, next to the Dome. This innovative approach highlights the unique capabilities of Mighty Buildings’ Mighty Kit System – an easy-to-configure platform that features rigorously tested and internationally certified building materials that are designed to be sustainable and climate resilient, and offer significant improvements over prior 3D printed technologies. These innovations can significantly reduce onsite construction timelines and enable building sites with near-zero waste.

Additional essential services that are critical to the success of this project have been donated by W. Gray Hodge, P.E., S.E., of Hodge Structural Engineers, and Civil Engineer Sean Henry, P.E., of Klingner & Associates, P.C. Local student construction assistance is provided by the Construction Management Program at John A. Logan College.

“We are proud to partner with the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Not-for-Profit in creating a sustainable future in harmony with Fuller’s masterful vision. The design of our parametric panels pays tribute to his groundbreaking work while showcasing the capabilities of 3D printing in construction. Together, we are advancing the cause of sustainable architecture combined with advanced construction technology,” said Scott Gebicke, CEO of Mighty Buildings.

The City of Carbondale, IL, has been instrumental in providing approvals and support for the project, with City Manager Gary Williams adding, “The City Council’s decision to invest in the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Home restoration reinforces the City’s commitment to sustainability and embodies Fuller’s assertion that ‘to change something, you have to build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.’  We believe that this 3D printed visitor’s center does just that.”

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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