Designed by American engineer Richard Buckminster Fuller and produced by the Butler Manufacturing Company

WW2 photo of DDUs near building 9020. Captain Howard Vollum Legion of Merit ceremony. Photo courtesy of Mr. Loran Stone’s family.

A DDU diagram (Source: R. Buckminster Fuller Institute, Santa Barbara, Ca. and Reed and Swanson 1996, Pg. 19)

Located near all the WWII built buildings are circular concrete pads, which were built to support “Dymaxion Deployment Units” (DDU).  Some DDUs remain in place.  The DDU was designed by American engineer Richard Buckminster Fuller and produced by the Butler Manufacturing Company, a firm that manufactured grain bins.  These corrugated sheet metal buildings were often placed beside the radar antenna shelters where they were used in the experiments that had to be conducted on the radar sets or for experiments that were potentially flammable.  Many were removed and others were later converted for storage (Reed and Swanson 1996).

DDU Vent – interior view

Mary Beth Reed and Mark Swanson researched the DDU and found:

“Created in 1940-41 and filed for patent in March of 1941, DDUs were first designed for British military use.  Used by the American military after Pearl Harbor, they were loosely based on the construction principles first publicized by Fuller’s “Dymaxion house” in 1927.  “Dymaxion” was a word coined by Fuller to express his principle of maximum function for minimum effort.  The dymaxion house, based on this principle, was a pre-fabricated circular construction supported by a single central mast (Buckminster Fuller Institute 1995; Klotz 1988; Roth 1979).  The DDUs had circular walls and a unique domed metal roof, with a ventilator at the central apex.  This design had the specific purpose of creating a warm-air thermal outside the building, together with a corresponding cool air draft pulled groundward in the middle.  The ventilator served to pull this downward draft of cooler air into the DDU.  This natural air-conditioning was just one of the unique features of Fuller’s DDUs (Buckminster Fuller Institute 1995).” (Reed and Swanson 1996 Pg. 17, 19).

DDUs on south side of building 9011B in 2000 at Camp Evans

Page created June 9, 2000