Housing the Spectacle: Glossary
- An artificial grass surface. First developed for use in the Houston
Astrodome after the dome's natural lawn deteriorated.
From the Daily Telegraph, April 21, 1966:
"Houston had spent $11 million building its mammoth, air-conditioned
Astrodome... Now..[they are] spending $180,000 on a carpet of synthetic turf,
- ASTM Standards
- Performance or chemical standards for industrial materials and
components set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- crane boom
- The outermost arm of a crane. During the construction of the Astrodome
special cranes with boom lengths up to 275 ft were used to lift
truss sections to the roof's 210 ft high peak.
- cable dome
- A shorthand phrase most commonly used to describe tensegrity domes.
- A beam, girder, truss, floor or roof section unsupported at one
end. Diving boards are cantilevers.
- A force or stress charactorized by pressure or squeezing.
- compression ring
section through the U. S. Pavilion's compression ring.
A structural ring that acts in compression. Compression rings in
pneumatic and tensegrity domes are located at the roof perimeter and anchor
the roof cables.
- A mound of earth. The U.S. Pavilion's roof rested on an earth berm.
- strain gauges
- Instruments used to measure deformations and stresses of structures.
- A curve for which the sum of the distances from
each point on the curve to two fixed points is equal
- super ellipse
- Ellipses with an exponent greater than 2.0. In the limit, as the
exponent goes to infinity, the corners of a super ellipse become square.
- erection tower
Towers used for the tempory support of elevated structural elements.
- fabric skirts
Detail of fabric/cable connection at the U.S. Pavilion
Fabric strips used at the U.S. Pavilion to connect roof cables to fabric
- Fuller, Buckminster
- American inventor of the geodesic dome and the tensegrity
dome, among other things.
- funicular shape
- The shape that a cable or tension structure takes under the action of
- The shortest possible line be drawn from one point of a surface to
another, its plane of curvature is everywhere perpendicular to the
surface. Such a curve is called a Geodetic line.
from the New York Times Literary SupplementNovember 6, 1959
With his geodetic domes and his synergetic geometry.. [Buckminster
Fuller] is designing..methods of enclosing space that others may one day
make into an architecture.
- geodesic dome
- a dome built according to the principles of geodetic construction
patented by R. Buckminster Fuller
from the New York Times, March 20, 1959:
The geodesic dome combines the structural advantages of the sphere
(which encloses the most space within the least surface, and is
strongest against internal pressure) with those of the tetrahedron
(which encloses least space with most surface and has the greatest
stiffness against external pressure).
- Geiger, David
- Inventor of the cable-stiffened pneumatic dome, and the first builder
of a long-span tensegrity dome (at the 1988 Seoul Olympics).
The computer used to do engineering calculations for the U.S. Pavilion's
- lamella dome*
A dome consisting of a series of intersecting skewed arches made up of
relatively short members called "lamellas", fastened together at an angle
so that each is intersected by two similar adjacent members at its
midpoint, thus forming an interlocking diamond-patterned network.
- laminar flow
- Smooth and regular fluid flow -- the direction
of motion at any point remaining constant as if the fluid were
moving in a series of layers sliding over one another without mixing.
- lateral loading
- Loads acting horizontally -- wind or earthquake loads.
a thin pliable sheet-like tissue. Pneumatic domes and tensegrity domes
use fabric to form their roof surfaces.
- A long, thin element, such as a steel pipe or a w-shape, which is
driven into to ground and used in combination with other piles as a
- pneumatic dome
- An inflated dome supported by internal air pressure.
- Embedding within concrete members high strength steel cables
(tendons), which are placed within cables and tensioned after the
concrete has hardened, causing compressive forces within the
concrete. By so placing and tensioning the tendons, the resulting
compressive forces can be so applied as to induce a bending opposite to
that caused by the applied load, thereby requiring less concrete.
- To manufacture sections of a structure in a factory or yard prior to
their assembly on a site, especially when the components are large or
- Tension applied to an object during manufacture or prior to some
other treatment, usually in order to counteract applied loads
(as in prestressed concrete).
- A horizontal roof member spanning between beams and trusses, and to
which the roofing material is attached.
- polyvinyl chloride, commonly used for plumbing drain pipes.
- space truss*
- A three-dimensional framework used to span a rectangular area whereby
the individual members are so interconnected that a truss effect is
achieved to carry imposed loads to all four support sides.
- statically determinate*
- Any structure whose reactions and forces can be determined by the
following: the summation of all vertical and horizontal forces acting on
the member or framework must be equal to zero, and the rotation causing
moment aboutany point must be equal to zero.
- disposed in layers. Placed in alternate layers with
- tensegrity structure
- A three-dimensional structure consisting of members under
tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not
From R. B. Fuller: Ideas & Integrities, 1963, p. 170:
Geodesic Tensegrity (my name for the discontinuous-compression,
continuous-tension structures) the ability to assemble
unprecedentedly large, clear-span structures.
- A force or stress causing stretching. A constrained condition of the
particles of a body when
subjected to forces acting in opposite directions away from each other
usually along the body's greatest length, thus tending to draw them
- Also called U-value or coefficient of heat transmission, it is a
measure of the insulating value of building materials, expressed in
B.T.U.'s per hour per square foot per degree Fahrenheit temperature
difference between each side. The lower the u-factor, the better the
- The speed and direction describing a moving object's travel.
Definitions noted with an asterisk * are adapted from Hugh Brooks
Dictionary of Building and Construction Terms Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Prentice Hall, 1976.
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