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Commercial Plan and Design

If you’re concerned about anything related to the planning and design of a Monolithic Dome school church, gym, etc. you will probably find the answer you need in this section. Besides articles by experts and Monolithic Dome owners and/or administrators, it contains tools, such as Googles’s “SketchUp,” for planning a dome and photographs. And new information is frequently added.

The Dangers of Low-Profile Monolithic Domes

Image: DOME PROFILE 1:8 on Stemwall – At 1:8, construction becomes extremely dangerous. The 1:8 ratio is pure foolishness. It works where non air-forming is done because the application of the concrete is not going to be a big deal in the shape, but with the air-forming it is a big deal and it is extremely important not to play with it.
(Remember, as the side thrust goes up, the pressures go up and the chance of distortion goes way up.)

In David B. South’s latest President’s Sphere, he addresses the risks of constructing low-profile Monolithic Domes. Using his forty years of experience building Monolithic Domes and thin-shell pioneer, Dr. Arnold Wilson’s engineering expertise, he cautions dome-builders that dropping the profiles of Airformed domes can have catastrophic consequences with no appreciable benefits. (Continued…)

To Architects and Designers: Tax Rebate 179-D

Many people do not know that there are some serious tax implications for designers of public-funded structures. Such buildings include schools, city halls – anything paid for with public monies. I urge architects and designers to review Section 179-D of the tax code. You as a designer can get a tax rebate of up to a $1.80 per square foot when you design these publicly financed buildings. (Continued…)

Design Advantages of the Monolithic Dome

Image: 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. (Continued…)

Tornado Tamer: A Tornado-Resistant Door

Image: The Tornado Tamer – It’s been tested by Texas Tech Wind Science University, and it meets FEMA 320 Guidelines for a unit that can resist a wind force of up to 250 mph.

For several years Monolithic has been searching for an affordable door whose ability to resist tornado-force winds matched that of a Monolithic Dome. “We did not have a problem finding doors with the integrity we wanted,” said David South, president of Monolithic. “We found them, but they were in the $5000 to $7000 range. Put a few of those on a building and they really skyrocket the price of a project. We needed a door with two advantages: tornado-resistant strength and affordability. About a year ago, we found both in the Tornado Tamer.” (Continued…)

In With The New; Out With The Old

Image: Systems compared — A conventional system brings in the maximum amount of outside air, whether needed or not. No allowances are made for crowd size. The cooling unit functions as an air handler even if CO2 levels are extremely low.  	

In a split system, the cooling unit only recirculates air inside the building. Human respirations increase the buildings CO2 levels and trigger the CO2 sensor to turn on the outside air intake system. So this ventilation system only brings fresh air into the building as needed, depending on crowd size. This dramatically lessens energy consumption and cost.

Within any building, many things affect air quality. Those things include carpeting, paint, paneling, furnishings, etc. Each or everyone can emit gases into the air that are bad for us. Organic materials within a building can harbor their own kind of bad stuff, such as mold, mites, bacteria, viruses, insects and even vermin.
So just what is the solution? (Continued…)

Is it better to build one large dome or two or more smaller ones?

This is a familiar problem. Administrators of various building projects, but particularly schools, often come up with a general plan that allows them to keep making the building bigger and as square as possible. Reason: Have the least amount of surface exposed to the weather because the surface is what generally lets in the heat or the cold. But Monolithic Domes give us a new paradigm – an attractive, practical one. The actual heat loss through the shell of a Monolithic Dome is close to zero, so it is not part of the equation. (Continued…)

iPhone Dome Calculator

Image: Step 1: Install MACalc Pro — Once the application is installed click on the menu button on the bottom left of the screen, then click on settings.

When the iPhone came out, we could immediately recognize the benefits. We knew that if we were going to make the switch to the iPhone, we would have to come up with a dome calculator. (Continued…)

Exterior Window Treatments: A Primer

Image: Side shapes and arch shapes

When designing your dome for residential or commercial use, it’s worth thinking through multiple construction possibilities early in your planning. Floor plans and fixtures might take up the bulk of your time, but an often overlooked issue is the dressing out of your exterior windows. (Continued…)

Considerations for Arched Window Bucks in Airform Augments

Image: Side view of augment showing height difference of window buck — Left Image: Poor profile shape due to size of buck and interior air pressure.  Curves exaggerated for illustration.  The buck was made to fit a hypothetical window.
Right Image: Augment appears more square from the side view due to the increased height of the buck.  In this case the larger buck has been made to fit tight in the Airform augment just inside the window seaming.

So after all the back-slapping, hand-shaking and fan fair during the Airform inflation, you’re finally ready to get down to the business of interior construction. From inside, you’re admiring the eye-catching, organic shape of the inflated Airform and the ethereal translucence as the sunlight filters through fabric, when a contractor derails your train of thought. (Continued…)

Stemwalls: What Works Best

Image: Integrated stemwall — For this dome, Monolithic designed the Airform to go straight up, reach the bottom of the second floor, then start to curve over the top. At the second level, an eave was installed that encircles the dome. Although not particularly hard to do, the eave gives the dome a vastly different appearance.

We often design a Monolithic Dome with a vertical stemwwall that goes straight up and acts as a base for the dome. Over the years, we’ve developed several ways of building stemwalls and have tried several options. (Continued…)

A Monolithic Dome’s Two Batteries

For a very long time we have known, planned around and used the thermal inertia of the Monolithic Dome. We call that thermal inertia the thermal battery. Why battery? Because significant savings in heating and cooling equipment can be achieved if you can trim the highs and lows by using the battery. (Continued…)

Risky Business: Hiring an Architect

While clients often see architects as a necessary evil, I don’t. The reality is that architects are necessary. But as in any profession, there are the good, the bad and the ugly, or architects who are talented, honest and reliable and their opposites. (Continued…)

The Monolithic Dome: Not a Square Idea

Rising from the Texas horizon in a futuristic fashion are unusual looking white domes. Many a motorist has stopped on I-35E near Italy, Texas, for a closer look. What are these one-piece buildings that look much like a puffed marshmallow or an Arctic igloo? They are Monolithic Domes. (Continued…)

Determine HVAC Needs For A Monolithic Dome: An Engineer’s Advice

Gordon Cuthbertson, owner of Cuthbertson Mechanical Engineers, of Mesa, Arizona and Ontario, Canada, was a skeptic. When Gordon first got involved with Monolithic Domes about four years ago, he, like so many others, had a hard time accepting and believing what the Monolithic Dome Institute (MDI) says about the thermal mass capability of its structures. (Continued…)

An innovative architect sold on the Monolithic Dome’s versatility

Image: Rick Crandall — Since the early 1990s, Architect Rick Crandall, head of Crandall Design Group in Mesa, AZ, has been designing a full range of Monolithic Domes. The pictures that follow include some of those projects.

“It’s the stretch!” That’s what Rick Crandall, one of Monolithic’s consulting architects, credits for his continued interest in Monolithic Domes. This Arizonian recalls that in 1996 when his association with the Monolithic Dome Institute first began, two factors fueled his interest in domes. “I was persuaded by the good experiences I had working with David South and other architects in the first four or five projects we did,” Crandall says. “But another factor was equally compelling: the stretch.” (Continued…)

SketchUp: A New Planning Tool

Image: Ariel Outside View

SketchUp is a drafting/rendering program produced by Google. On sketchup.google it’s defined as “software that you can use to create, share and present 3D models.” It’s new and it’s fun, and with it you can design a Monolithic Dome home, school, church, gymnasium — or whatever. (Continued…)