b. Patent Summary

School of Architecture,
Princeton University



US Patent No:

August 31, 1959

Serial No.:

November 13, 1962

The essence of my invention consists in the discovery of how to progressively reduce the aspect of compression in a structure so that to a greater extent than has been found possible before the structure will have the aspect of continuous tension throughout and the compression will be subjugated so that the compression elements become small islands in a sea of tension.

This is to bring the slenderness lightness and strength of the suspension bridge cable into the realm previously dominated by the compression column concept of building.

The suspension bridge is fundamentally a tensioned structure through its use of the catenary curve of the cables between compression column towers.

My invention is akin to taking some of the compression out of the compression towers ie the columns walls and roofs of a building or even taking compression out of a single column or mast through the creation of a structure having discontinuous compression as hereinafter defined and continuous tension and wherein the islands of compression in the mast are progressively reduced in individual size and total mass.

As applied to a geodesic dome structure I might describe my invention as a structure of generally spherical form comprising discontinuous compression columns arranged in an overall pattern of three column tepees each column of each tepee being joined in apparent continuity to one column of one of three adjacent tepees to form what appears as a single column like member and the outer parts of the columns of each tepee being connected to one another only by tension elements.

Tension elements also connect the outer parts of the columns to points on the columns in the region where they are joined together in apparent continuity.

As applied to structures generally my invention consists in a structure comprising a plurality of discontinuous compression columns arranged in groups of three non conjunctive columns connected by tension elements forming tension triangles columns of adjacent groups being joined together in apparent continuity as above described.
According to another aspect of my invention the structure comprises an assemblage of tension and compression components arranged in a discontinuous compression system in which the compression components comprise an assemblage of compression and tension components arranged in a discontinuous compression system whereby the islands of compression in the initial discontinuous compression system are progressively diminished in size and relative mass.