My father wrote this letter about his late partner Shoji Sadao to the NY Times. I wanted to share it with you to honor Shoji-san, my father’s last living architecture partner.
I am honored to add to the legacy (regardless of print) of Shoji Sadao. By all accounting - Shoji was an architectural samurai, in Japan the term is "to serve."
Shoji's accomplishment was his service to two geniuses, Bucky & Isamu, Shoji was an architectural samurai, he understood them both and added to their mix, without need or benefit of self glory.
In early years with Bucky with the dymaxion map contribution, as he learned much about geography and cartography when he served in the US Army. Shoji served in the army despite being housed as a teenager in a detention camp for Japanese Americans, note, he was born in the US.
Later years, with Bucky Fuller and Expo '67 dome, Shoji was the project director and architect. The first scheme for Expo ‘67 was Bucky's huge octet truss for World Game. The Exposition officials felt the World Game concept too difficult to manage with large crowds - and the geodesic dome was introduced as a second option. Expo officials approved the second concept - but it took a hands on, registered architect to see Fuller's geodesic dome vision to completion - it was Shoji Sadao who saw it through. Much like Walt Disney, Bucky initiated the idea - but it took others to charter the completion of the Expo ‘67 dome, it was Sadao, under the direction Fuller who fulfilled the vision.
Buckminster Fuller was, and still is, a visionary, but it takes a dedicated genius to understand and translate their concept to hard reality, and this was Shoji's great talent for both Fuller and Noguchi.
For Isamu - the landscaping and outdoor design engineering for the Detroit, Horace Dodge outdoor sculpture pieces. The same in Miami for Noguchi's herculean park and landscape. Shoji's architectural background was instrumental to these large projects to foster completion.
One cannot associate Fuller and Noguchi without mention of Sadao, he served without out reservation, he added to the mix, the shogun's objective realized. Shoji Sadao's archives are now housed at the Stanford University Libraries archives, alongside Fuller and Ed Applewhite. Stanford takes great pride that the Fuller archives are the most used in the Sadao addition, as academic scholars now have a fuller picture of the 'Best of Friends' - Fuller and Noguchi. Much of the puzzle was filled in with the addition of the Sadao papers.
Shoji was, as his wife Tsuneko said, my big brother, a talented gentleman and selfishly, I shall miss him very much, the world even more. Shoji Sadao and Shirley Sharkey, Bucky's sec. were encouraging during my three years research for the Fuller Anthology.
Hope this is helpful, let me know if you need anything else. Thank you for taking this on, Shoji deserves the recognition. Best wishes.
Thomas T K Zung
Buckminster Fuller, Sadao & Zung