Art, Design, Social Impact

End of an Era: Thank you from Elizabeth Thompson

End of an Era!
THANK YOU from BFI’s long serving former Executive Director

New York, November 29, 2016:

Dear Members of BFI’s Global Community!!

It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with so many of you over these last twelve years in my role as BFI’s Executive Director. I want to thank you very much for the encouragement and support you have shared – it has nurtured and sustained us more than you know!

BFI has accomplished a lot and I am very proud of the work we have been able to do with our small staff, very dedicated supporters, and devoted board of directors. It has also been a pleasure to work with the Estate of Buckminster Fuller to achieve our mutual goals of ensuring increased access to Fullers ideas.

I have had the great good fortune of working with incredibly smart, talented and committed people who have also served BFI and whose hard work has turned this organization in to an influential beacon of hope in honor of its namesake. I want to take this opportunity to thank Matt Barron, Angela Molenaar, Jochen Hartman, Willis Elkins, Pablo Freund, TC Kida, Jenjoy Roybal, Sophie Nichols, Sarah Skenazy, Sharifah Taqi and Megan Ahearn for their partnership and creative ingenuity in helping to shape the organization over these last years as exceptional members of BFI’s staff.

There are many others to thank whose countless hours of time and talent as advisors, mentors and Fuller experts have provided extraordinary counsel and support, helping us to navigate the complex challenges involved in providing adequate resources to engage the growing international interest in Fuller’s work.

Lastly, I would like to thank the donors, sponsors and partners who have made the work of the last twelve years possible – they include the members of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, the Highfield Foundation, the Threshold Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Halloran Philanthropies, the Rauschenberg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Interface, Philips, dMass among many others. None of this would have been possible without the partnership, support and friendship of Joshua Arnow and the Arnow Family Foundation. And for this I am deeply grateful.

BFI moves to New York
I began my engagement with BFI in 2002 as a consultant working with Joshua Arnow who was serving as BFI’s board president, on his groundbreaking EARTHscope initiative, an early earth systems data visualization tool for students and educators. Together with a team of advisors we led the Board of Directors through a strategic planning process resulting in the move of BFI’s offices to New York from Sebastapol, CA in 2004 at which time I agreed to serve as the organization’s Executive Director and re-structure the organization.

Educational Program Development
From 2005 – 2008 we developed the Spaceship Earth, the game research project in partnership with UC Irvine’s Game, Culture and Technology Lab, and the Threshold Foundation and the Design Science Lab (DSL). Launched in partnership with BigPictureSmallWorld, The United Nations International School and UNC, Asheville, the DSL is a ten-day design science intensive focused on developing strategies to address the U.N’s Millennial Development Goals.

The Fuller Challenge
From 2007-2016 we launched and I have overseen the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, recognized internationally as socially responsible design’s highest award

Work with artists, curators and cultural institutions
One of the highlights of my tenure has been the opportunity to participate in the development of numerous exhibitions, symposia, product launches, publications. With the generous contribution of original works by ten contemporary artists last year we produced Invisible/Visible, a Limited Edition print portfolio. In 2008, in partnership with the Center for Architecture and in connection with the opening of the historic Fuller retrospective Starting with the Universe at the Whitney Museum, the Dymaxion Study Center was developed as part of over a dozen events, installations and symposia we organized around NYC.

Historic Restorations and commissions
And I am extremely proud of the work we were able to do from 2010-2015 that led to the recovery, restoration and installation of two of Fuller’s most iconic large scale building prototypes, the 24 ft and 50 ft. Fly’s Eye Dome working with Miami based Dacra Design, and renowned architectural preservationist and contemporary art collector Bob Rubin to secure the purchase of the artifacts from BFI. These magnificent structures will now be accessible to the public and I look forward to celebrating the installation of the 50 foot Fly’s Eye dome at the Crystal Bridges Museum in 2017.

Working in partnership with DRDesign, Goetz Composites and ConformLab, we were able to secured the commissions for the re-design and development of two new Fly’s Eye dome structures, a temporary butterfly habitat for the MGM Grand Hotel in Maccau, China and a permanent building designed as centerpiece of Miami’s Design District.

I am looking forward to working with BFI’s new Executive Director, Amanda Ravenhill, and BFI’s Board of Directors as they chart a new course for BFI. I hope you will join me in welcoming Amanda and supporting the work of BFI by making a financial contribution today!

With great appreciation,

Elizabeth Thompson