(PAW Archives)
(PAW Archives)

R. Buckminster Fuller, an architect and inventor best known for promoting the use of geodesic domes, taught as a visiting lecturer at Princeton in the 1950s and made his mark with experimental structures such as the “discontinuous compression sphere,” a towering, self-supported globe composed of aluminum pipes and cables. (The photo above shows the work in progress, with an assist from the local fire department.) 

(Defense Department/PAW Archives)
(Defense Department/PAW Archives)

In the fall of 1954, Fuller worked with graduate students to develop lightweight emergency shelters for the Marines. The shelters, designed to be airlifted by helicopter, were 36 feet in diameter and weighed less than 1,200 pounds. Fuller’s on-campus experiments are long gone, but Princeton does include at least one building that draws on his design style: Jadwin Gymnasium, which Architectural Digest called “a column-free structure supported by three interlocking shells with Buckminster Fuller-influenced geodesic trusses.”