News

Throwback: The world’s oldest monolithic dome — the Pantheon

The entrance to the Pantheon in Rome, Italy.

The Pantheon is arguably the first monolithic dome. Not in the sense of the modern, insulated structure, but as the original one-piece, monolithic, concrete dome — the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. No other significant structure of antiquity has survived as well preserved nor with the roof intact.

Central City to build Nebraska’s first Monolithic Dome gymnasium

Gymnasium interior rendering

Central City Public Schools is constructing the first Monolithic Dome gymnasium in Nebraska. When the dome is opened in August 2020, it will seat 2,500 spectators and shelter over 3,000 people during severe weather. The facility is years in the making and it started with a simple internet search.

Throwback: Houston area church is a dome of many firsts

Flying over the job site reveals the scope of work.

Today’s throwback story is from 1984 with a dome of firsts — the Maranatha Church — the first Monolithic Dome over 200-feet diameter, the first dome proving energy savings enough to pay for the building, and the first high capacity auditorium with seating for over 4,000.

The South’s say goodbye to the South Sawmill Lodge

South Sawmill Lodge

It’s time to say goodbye to the South Sawmill Lodge. Randy South’s family of South Industries started the 90-foot diameter dome in 2009 on the old family homestead in Island Park, Idaho. Over the next four years, the family squeezed in time to finish the dome which became a lodge and reunion center rented out to dozens of families over the years. The lodge sold this spring.

The easy way to calculate a dry bulk storage dome

Medium product storage dome.

How big is a Monolithic Dome that stores 10,000 tons of ammonium nitrate? Or 750,000 bushels of corn? Or 34,000 metric tonnes of gypsum? These are straightforward questions without quick answers — until now.

The dome builder workshops are back!

Workshop alumni after building a Monolithic Dome.

It’s back! After a year and a half hiatus, the Monolithic Dome Builders Workshop resumes again in September 2021. Coronavirus restrictions are lifting. Travel is returning. We can finally gather to teach, discuss, and build another Monolithic Dome.

Over the edge with vertical ellipsoids

Sketch of the concepts used in the vertical ellipsoid dome calculator

Inflatable shapes are the basic components of Monolithic Dome design. If it inflates, it can be constructed … probably. There are two primary shapes that dominate dome design — the sphere and half-ellipsoid. However, these are not the whole design palette. Sometimes we need to go beyond the basics. or in this case, beyond half of the ellipsoid.

Rare winter storm wreaks havoc in Texas

Winter snow covering Monolithic Dome Research Park near Italy, Texas

Monolithic Domes are amazing. The insulation, coupled with the concrete’s thermal mass, creates an atmosphere that is hard to describe. Simply put, it feels the same today as it does in the middle of summer. If you set the thermostat at 70 (21°C), it just stays there. During the two-degree, 24 hour period, my heater ran for a total of 9 hours. This is a small heater, with only 30,000 BTUs. Most homes the size of mine have 100,000 BTU heaters, but even my neighbors with electricity struggled to stay warm with heaters running nearly 24/7.