Make your own free website on

Back to Snelson's Planar Pieces

Reply from Kenneth Snelson on Ioganson and Trusses

From: Kenneth Snelson
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2004 13:36:27 -0400
Subject: Re: tensegrity truss

Dear Bob Burkhardt,

As you might imagine I'm a bit bored with this subject. All anyone who's interested needs to do is go to my website and compare my work, its scope and quality, with anybody else's.

I'm not sure which structure you are calling a "truss" but my guess it's the planar structure on your webpage. Attached are some photos, especially one of me in my studio at148 Spring Street, NYC in 1960. You can see some of the work I was doing back then. The planar pieces were shown in galleries and appeared in various art publications in those days. That particular photo of me in the studio was published a few years later in an Italian magazine article, "Cartabianca", March 1968.

I pretty much went through all configurations I could imagine that seemed worthwhile exploring. I have little interest in tensegrity spheres, the kind Fuller and his followers pursued. With more complexity than 12 struts the shell "wall" becomes shallow and floppy, a fact I'm sure you know from your own efforts. The best prospect, although for limited application, is illustrated as an arch megastructure composed from X-modules and their interlocked five and six way connectors with its suggestive figure in the patent drawing on the final page of figures.

My original patent ("Continuous Tension, Discontinuous Compression Structures" #3,169,611, Feb. 16, 1965, (filed March 14, 1960).) had in it the essence of tensegrity.

In 1960-61 I intended also to apply for patent for the planar structures and I experimented with them a lot in those days --had a draftsman do the necessary drawings -- some of which I'm attaching here. Not only did the application become more expensive than I could afford but I soon decided I'd made my basic statement in the original patent and the planar supplement would only have been icing on an already well done cake; so I abandoned it. I send these drawings to you for whatever interest you may have in them.

As for the atom model, you can find that at:

There are two parts to click on there: one that describes the atom model and the other that tells how I happened to get involved with it.

Best wishes,

Kenneth Snelson

P.S. I'm also attaching a Word document, a copy of the letter I wrote to Maria Gough about the Ioganson issue. ks

Back to Snelson's Planar Pieces