Fuller taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina during the summers of 1948 and 1949, serving as its Summer Institute director in 1949. There, with the support of a group of professors and students, he began reinventing a project that would make him famous: the geodesic dome. Although the geodesic dome had been created some 30 years earlier by Dr. Walther Bauersfeld, Fuller was awarded United States patents. He is credited for popularizing this type of structure.
One of his early models was first constructed in 1945 at Bennington College in Vermont, where he frequently lectured. In 1949, he erected his first geodesic dome building that could sustain its own weight with no practical limits. It was 4.3 meters (14 ft) in diameter and constructed of aluminum aircraft tubing and a vinyl-plastic skin, in the form of an icosahedron. To prove his design, and to awe non-believers, Fuller suspended from the structure's framework several students who had helped him build it. The U.S. government recognized the importance of his work, and employed his firm Geodesics, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina to make small domes for the army. Within a few years there were thousands of these domes around the world.
His first "continuous tension - discontinuous compression" geodesic dome (full sphere in this case) was constructed at the University of Oregon Architecture School in 1959 with the help of students. (Ref: The Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller ISBN: 0385018045.) These continuous tension - discontinuous compression structures featured single force compression members (no flexure or bending moments) that did not touch each other and were 'suspended' by the tensional members.