Design Advantages of the Monolithic Dome

Monolithic Dome Rental in Italy, Texas — This Rental Unit provides secure, quiet, clean and affordable living accommodations even when an approaching storm darkens the skies.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, but the Monolithic Dome comes close. The original cost of a Monolithic Dome is generally less than that of a similar- size conventional building. Often it is much less. Then there is cost recovery. Generally, over a period of twenty years, savings in energy costs will equal the full cost of a Monolithic Dome facility. So, in effect, it becomes free.

Your New House: Investment or Money Pit?

A home comes in two parts; the first part is the investment. With the investment comes its value as a family domicile, a place of refuge (if it is strong enough to be a refuge), and a place for the family to gather, work, struggle and grow together. The second part of the house is the money pit. That’s the cost of maintenance, fuel, electricity and manpower it takes to maintain and operate a house. The money pit is where you throw hard-earned cash that’s never seen again by you, the homeowner.

Preparedness Takes Preparation

As a young man, I recall sitting in church and looking at a large painted mural at the front of our chapel. It depicted the parable of the ten virgins – five wise and five foolish. I knew that the five foolish ones had arrived without sufficient oil while the five wise ones had plenty. I also knew that when the bridegroom showed up, the smarties who came prepared were allowed to go in with him; the others were not. At the time, I didn’t understand that; it all seemed a bit cruel to me. As I matured, I realized that preparedness definitely has its rewards.

A Master’s Thesis on Monolithic Domes

For Nanette South, David B. South’s daughter, years of study and work have culminated in a thesis titled, “A Finite Element Analysis of the Monolithic Dome.” Its ten chapters, figures and tables discuss the history of thin-shell and Monolithic Domes, shell theory, finite element analysis, comparisons of shell theories and a buckling analysis.

Chris Zweifel: Consulting Engineer

Chris Zweifel

Chris Zweifel, now 41 and successfully operating ZZ Consulting, said that he always wanted to be an engineer. The question was what kind since engineering encompasses many branches. “I couldn’t make up my mind – had a hard time figuring it out,” Chris admits. Finally, about the time he began working on his bachelor’s degree, he decided on Civil Engineering.

Curved Dome Walls: Easy and Fun to Decorate

The indoor courtyard entry at the Atalaya del Vulcan

Monolithic Dome walls are not only good for our environment, safe from natural disasters and cost effective, they’re easy and fun to decorate. Yes, curved walls are finally coming into their own. What decorators used to puzzle over and dread now has them cheering and praising.

DuPont’s Monolithic Dome Hurricane Shelter

Hurricane Shelter at DuPont’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Facility

In 2004, Monolithic designed a dome for DuPont. They wanted a structure that could survive a category 5 (155+ mph winds and 18+ foot surge) hurricane, for their plant in DeLisle, Mississippi. It got tested by Hurricane Katrina.

Shelter: It ain’t what it used to be!

In 1943 Abraham Maslow published his eye-opening paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, that featured a pyramid of human needs. Shelter,, a universal human need fell into the second longest level of this pyramid. But just what was shelter for the average American in 1943 and in the years that followed? For most of us it meant having a roof over our heads – a reliable one that could protect us from the rain, wind, cold and heat. That, however, is no longer true.

New Jersey Church Planning Monolithic Dome

St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Christian Church in New Jersey may soon be the first congregation in the state to build a Monolithic Dome. The new structure, which is pending approval from the Belleville Zoning Board, would serve as a youth center.

2011 Dome Tour Declared “Best Ever!”

Hooray! They’re still cheering at Monolithic. Thanks to the cooperation and work of domers scattered across America and a healthy media response, this year’s Tour was a big success. Here’s what we’re hearing from our participants:

Strengthening a Large Creek Bank

The bank was rough and we did not intend to greatly change it. We smoothed a few spots. Our goal was bank stabilization – not a seemingly new bank that looked manufactured.

We received a call from a homeowner in Forreston, Texas. She wanted us to examine the creek bank in front of her house. The creek had seriously started to erode and her house was seriously getting closer to the creek. She was really worried about it falling into the creek if she lost a few more feet.

Monolithic Chain Shell: A Super Protector

Chain Shell is one of several materials that can be used to cover and protect an Airform.

For many years Monolithic has been researching and developing protection for the Airform, the exterior fabric on a Monolithic Dome. That fabric is the weakest link of the Monolithic Dome, yet it serves two absolutely vital functions. As its name implies, the Airform forms the critical shape of the structure. That’s its primary function. But it also has an equally vital secondary function: An Airform protects the dome’s polyurethane foam insulation from sunshine and weather. But it’s made of fabric materials that, over time, the sun can slowly degrade. So to do its job, obviously the Airform needs help.

Monolithic Dome Survives Texas Wildfire

June 2011: Texas wildfire destroyed 100,000 acres before it was stopped.

Fathers Day, 2011: On that day the Antelope Springs Ranch in Blackwell, Texas fell victim to a wildfire that blazed across the Lone Star State. This fire destroyed 100,000 acres before it was stopped.

A Rock Covered Dome

800-square-foot, spectacular, small home in Brigham, Utah. No A/C needed. Open windows at night to cool it. It stays cool all day. Owner Lori Hunsaker did the rock cover on the exterior herself.

Brigham City, located in Box Elder County, Utah, population 18,000, is home to Lori Hunsaker, editor of the Box Elder News Journal and owner of a beautiful 32′ × 18′ elliptical Monolithic Dome home.

Underground, Safe, Fallout Shelter/Home

In 1986 John Ayers of Presidio County, Texas became concerned about nuclear fallout from a dropped bomb. He wanted to be safe and asked me to build an underground house for him, which we did in the late summer of that year.

Monolithic Bomb Shelters and Fallout Shelters

This home under construction. It was built in 1987 and  is truly a nuclear fallout shelter.  The earth cover goes to the top of the pipes.  For more information see the John Ayers article.

I keep hoping a day will come when we’re no longer thinking that we may need a bomb or fallout shelter. But it seems more and more likely that the need will occur before that day does.

An Invitation to Share

Save Green Expo exhibit by Chris and Maddy Ecker

During the 2010 Annual Monolithic Dome Tour, we had more than 100 curious visitors to our dome home in Galax, Virginia. One of those visitors remembered the efficiency of our Monolithic Dome and invited us to a LandCare Grayson (County, Virginia) meeting.

Trinidad School District Gymnasium and Field House

This super energy efficient Monolithic Dome Gymnasium is now a tornado shelter as well.  The power savings will equal the cost of the building in less than 20 years.  The lifetime is expected to be centuries.

Trinidad, a Texas rural community of 1100 and school district with about 300 students, has been using its Monolithic Dome gymnasium and field house for about seven years now, since their completion in October 2004.  

Water Filters! Why?

When Monolithic began offering water filters, David South, our company president, began getting questions. “Why is Monolithic talking about water filters?” someone asked. “What do water filters have to do with domes?” another queried. And a third simply asked, “What’s the connection?”

The McWilliams’ Monolithic Dome Home: Tragedy and Triumph

After the October 2007 fire in Santiago Canyon, a hilly, wooded area of Orange County, California, burned their home, Melody and Phil McWilliams decided to build a fire-resistant Monolithic Dome.

On October 21, 2007, in Santiago Canyon, a hilly, wooded area of Orange County California, an arsonist and the dry, ferocious Santa Ana winds formed a devastating alliance. Together they created and quickly spread a blaze that forced 3000 residents out of their homes. The wood house of Melody and Phil McWilliams was one that was totally destroyed. “All of a sudden, there we were with no home!” Phil said.

Spotlight Back on Hobbit House

The wonderland that Steve and Christine Michaels have created around their Monolithic Dome home is once again making headlines. This time it’s the hometown newspaper, the Billings Gazette, that is putting the spotlight on the unusual property. As we’ve reported, the New York Times and MTV Extreme Homes have also come calling.

Foam: Fire Hazard and Fire Barrier

Fire damage from three wood structures and 300 gallons of transformer oil – Cargill – Channelview, TX
  A violent, wind-driven fire fueled by three wood structures and 300 gallons of transformer oil burned about a third of the covering off this fertilizer storage. The fire was the worst possible. Late at night, wind blew the fire directly toward the building. The fire department was not immediately called, so the oil burned completely. Damage was most severe to the exterior. In a 12-square-foot area, urethane was totally burned off, but the rest suffered more minor damage. The foam could be cleaned and a coating or metal cladding could be installed over it. No damage was detected on the inside of the Monolithic Dome.
  Note that the foam held the fire back for a considerable time, and then the nonflammable concrete ended any possibility of the flames burning through to the stored product. Materials inside the dome were totally unaffected by the fire, and the dome’s concrete interior never even got warm.

When sprayed on the interior of a building, with no covering such as shotcrete or drywall, polyurethane foam can create a dangerous fire hazard. Monolithic Domes are as close to fireproof as you can make a building with today’s technology. Yet they have urethane as a major component. Currently, urethane foam is the world’s best insulation, but let me tell you the rest of the story.

A Fertile Market for Domes

Monolithic, Inc. has been building fertilizer storage facilities for decades. The strong, steel-reinforced concrete structures are well-suited for chemical storage because they can handle the corrosive elements in the fertilizer. They also can withstand the abuse of front loaders and other heavy machinery used to move the chemicals from one location to another. An added bonus is the dome’s energy-efficiency, which makes air-conditioning them cost-efficient, keeping condensation to a minimum.

Fly Ash Properties and Uses

Fly ash closely resembles volcanic ashes used in production of the earliest known hydraulic cements about 2,300 years ago. Those cements were made near the small Italian town of Pozzuoli – which later gave its name to the term pozzolan. A pozzolan is a siliceous/aluminous material that, when mixed with lime and water, forms a cementitious compound. Fly ash is the best known, and one of the most commonly used, pozzolans in the world.

Indoor Golf: Better than Par for the Course

A complete, eighteen-hole, indoor golf course is not yet a reality. We can build the domes large enough, but the price may be too high. However, a nine-hole course is much more realistic.

Indoor golf may now be affordable utilizing the Monolithic Dome. A nine-hole course could be built perfectly in four, 400-foot domes. Proposed plans include two holes in each of three domes and three holes in the fourth dome.

New Life Family Church: Now the second tallest building in Biloxi

New Life Family Church in Biloxi as it is getting a new coat of coating in 2003.

Somewhere between 24 to 36 hours after Katrina made landfall, Pastor Jeff Ulmer of New Life Family Church returned to the 150-foot diameter dome church to assess damages. After finding the building to be structurally sound, he quickly opened church doors to relief workers.

Texas wildfires heighten interest in Monolithic Domes

The wildfires raging across Texas have heightened interest in fire-resistant Monolithic Domes, as home owners look for greater protection against all types of natural disasters. The general public will have the opportunity to learn more about these unusual homes when the Monolithic Dome Institute opens many of the dome homes on its property for public tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 15 as part of the 11th annual Fall Dome Tour.

Polyurethane Foam Insulation: An Alternative with Big Benefits

“Polyurethane foam is no stranger to us,” said Monolithic’s President David B. South in a recent discussion of home insulation at MDI headquarters in Italy, Texas. “After all, it’s a major component of the Monolithic Dome building process,” he continued. “But I’m still continually surprised by how little the construction industry and the average American homeowner know about this wonderful product.”

Anatomy of a Monolithic Bulk Storage

Cross section of a Monolithic Dome bulk storage.

Bulk Materials is a term used for large quantities of similar material. Bulk storage is the term for buildings that store bulk commodities such as cement, sand, frac sand, salt, fertilizer, feed, grains, aggregates, carbon, chips, seeds, peanuts, coke, blasting powder – and the list goes on. Capacities may vary from a few hundred tons to many thousand tons.

Rebar: Bend or Don’t Bend?

To bend or not to bend? That is the question if you’re talking about bending reinforcing steel bars (rebar) that are partially embedded in concrete, as we do in the Monolithic Dome construction process.

Monolithic Theme Park Domes: Bringing Fantasies Down To Earth

Winter Wonderland- You are in Switzerland, skating on a beautiful trail that opens onto a large ice pond. You spend the day exploring the ice caves, riding the tram to the restaurant lodge, or shopping in the village. The Monolithic Dome makes this possible in even the hottest areas of the world.

Monolithic Domes — those sturdy, most stationery of stationery structures — have entered a new realm — the realm of fantasy. Rick Crandall, Consulting Architect, says, “Monolithic Domes make perfect fantasy domes, and they are rapidly gaining popularity for fantasy environments such as those in theme parks, water parks, zoos, theaters, planetariums — even shopping malls.”

Understanding Polyurethane Foam

One of the characteristics of polyurethane foam is density. Density equals how many pounds per cubic foot it weighs. So when we say we want two-pound density foam, it means we want two pounds per cubic foot of foam weight. This can be a little confusing.

The Perils of Selective Compliance

Several years ago a teacher in our school district decided to show the modern version of Last of the Mohicans as part of her literature class. The movie is R-rated and one of the students protested. She said that she and her family “never watched R-rated movies.”

Safe, Affordable Housing is Possible with Monolithic Technology

When we think of people who do not have access to clean drinking water and sanitation, the image of refugees in Africa or other parts of the developing world usually come to mind. But the poor and homeless in the United States often face the very same problems, according to a U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. After a U.S. visit earlier this year, the U.N. investigator Catarina de Albuquerque found that the challenges faced by U.S. homeless are in violation of international human rights standards.

Cleaning our Monolithic Airform

The Ecker’s dome home before they began washing their Airform.

As my wife and I prepare for future exterior work on our Monolithic Dome, and to keep up with recommended Airform maintenance, it’s finally time to wash our Airform again.