February, 1993; p. 63-66


by Barbara Van Schoyck

Jacque Fresco lives up the road a piece - up miles and miles of pine-peppered roads, through acres of blossom-scented groves, past swishy-tailed cows, over a stretch of bumpety-bump gravel and onto a tract of land around Venus, Florida so peaceful and pristine you'd swear you'd stepped into another world.

It almost is another world. For there, set among the rich, green quiet of the palmettos and palms, is a magnificent obsession: a research and development center for the study of the future. And Fresco, like most inventors with a magnificent obsession, is no ordinary man.

Seventy-six, intense and spry as a spring colt, he 's quick-witted, quick-talking, and quick to tell you all about what he thinks of today's society and how he wants to change it. He's bright, knowledgeable and self-educated. He's contemplative and thorough, a dreamer and a doer. And he's given his life to building a new tomorrow.

An industrial designer by trade who calls himself a "social engineer," Fresco settled in sleepy Venus nearly a decade ago. He sought an undisturbed environment to write, study, and design solutions to the challenges of our world. "The function of the project," he explains of his work there, "is to find answers to problems, not just dump them in (people's) laps."

To accomplish that he took a 25-acre parcel of land, "flat, uninteresting land," he says, and, with colleague Roxanne Meadows, began to build his research and development center. Aiming to show how high technology and "the most beautiful gift we have – nature" could be integrated effectively, they planted acres of trees, dug ponds, built bridges, and constructed one-by-one and by hand – a series of futuristic domes.

Today the igloo-like dome structures are nestled in among the trees and glisten white and bright against the vivid textures of the landscape. Fresco says the steel and concrete domes provide strong, energy-efficient housing systems that are also pest, wind and fire-proof. He lives in one of the domes and uses the several others on the property as work centers and prototype models of housing in the future.

But the domes, while important,are just part of Fresco's future world. He's designed 32-part cars, 3-bladed helicopters, high-speed electromagnetic people movers, an automotive airbag, hundreds of medical devices, low-cost, quick-to-build, mass-produced housing, and even a complete city of the future.

Of course, Fresco – thorough to his bones – has that all figured out. In his city Fresco envisions, "No killing, no arrogance, none of the behavior that's dominant today... No street people, no beggars, no crime... " It would be a moneyless society, a world where people are encouraged to explore, create and innovate; a society where people are given books and tools – all free and without interest.

There would be rounded architecture, rounded lines, even rounded modes of transportation. "We don't want anything square," says Fresco, "not even the people."

The city, for which he has constructed models, is designed in a series of concentric circles and would include a central administrative dome, pre-fabricated residence towers, interdisciplinary work centers, a strong cultural arts center, and an agricultural belt. A park-like setting would surround the entire circle. And, a high-speed transportation system would move people within the city as well as transport them to other cities of similar design.

It's all part of his dream to see a world built on creativity, harmony and "sociocyberneering" which, he says, is "the application of the best of science and technology to human betterment." A big dream for sure, but his most magnificent obsession perhaps is "Welcome to the Future."

That's his yet-to-be-produced film, a look at life in the future and the culmination of his life's work. With his script completed, and the sets scattered among the research center in Venus nearly ready, all that remains for this dream venture is finding financing. "We consider this motion picture the most significant motion picture ever (to be) made," insists Fresco. "This film could really help our nation. It's not just an ordinary movie."

By the time Fresco's dream film is produced, he and Meadows hope to have begun a city, somewhere in Florida, that will serve, Meadows plans, as "a living replica"of what the film depicts. "We just need some exposure," she says, "and things could happen."

But, urges Fresco whose mind is firmly focused on the future , with the problems of today's world, the clock is ticking. "The re a re. people out there hungry and we want to get this film out... There's not that much time left."