A. G. Bell & the Octet Truss

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“Climaxing Bell’s architectural experiments with tetrahedral structures was an observation tower at Beinn Bhreagh, his summer estate near Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Each unit for this tower consisted of six 4-foot pieces of ordinary galvanized iron pipe and four connecting nuts; the units, themselves, were riveted together in the field by unskilled labor. Upon its completion in September 1907, the tower stood nearly 80 feet high.”

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“It was a characteristic of Dr. Bell’s inventive genius that he was able to apply the discoveries in one field to another, entirely different, discipline. He once said on the subject of discovery and invention: ‘We are all too much inclined, I think, to walk through life with our eyes shut. There are things all round us and right at our very feet that we have never seen, because we have never really looked.’ The time has come to take a real look at Dr. Bell’s work more than 50 years ago.”

FORUM wishes to thank the Bell family and the National Geographic Society for their generosity in making the material available and this article possible. All photographs used herein have been copyrighted by the National Geographic Society.

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