Originally published 03/22/2013
As a Dartmouth student in the early 1970s, William McDonough went, somewhat casually, to hear a lecture by a visiting celebrity. Mr. McDonough had little idea beforehand who Buckminster Fuller was, but listening to the designer and futurist had a long-term effect.Mr. McDonough was late and took one of the last seats left, in the front row. Three hours later, he realized that the rest of the audience was gone but that Mr. Fuller was still talking. “Do you want me to keep going?” Mr. Fuller asked politely but unnecessarily. They ended up taking a walk around campus, Mr. Fuller expostulating all the way.That evening put Mr. McDonough on the path to becoming a prominent architect, but it exists only in his memory, which used to be where just about everything about our pasts resided. Now Mr. McDonough is in the forefront of efforts to change that, to record instantaneously the major intellectual events in our lives. He will be the first living archive at Stanford University....