California’s First Monolithic School Gym Gets Approval

Recently, the Division of State Architects in California approved the construction of a Monolithic dome gymnasium, the first of its kind to be used for educational and school purposes in California, for Wasuma Elementary in the Bass Lake School District, reports Alan Wileman in the Sierra Star’s story, Bass Lake District gets approval on domed gym.

Wasuma Elementary’s need for a gymnasium was first discussed in a meeting in 2006, Wileman asserts, but more vital projects were addressed first. These projects didn’t use the entire $15 million bond they received that year, leaving a sizable sum to begin building the Wasuma gym.

Wileman says that Superintendent Glenn Reid realized quickly that the $1 million left in the budget was not enough to build a conventional four-sided gymnasium, as multiple bids came in at more than $5 million.

According to the Sierra Star, Reid spoke with Glenn Lauterbach, the school’s construction consultant, who proposed the idea of building a Monolithic dome gym. Lauterbach is quoted as saying, “I looked online and saw a gym pod. From that point the numbers seemed to work and we were able to stretch it out and get a gym large enough for our liking.”

The article names Juan Gonzalez, of Gonzalez Architects in Fresno as the gym builder. “We are optimistic that the project building cost will be 8% to 10% less expensive than a conventional gymnasium building structure,” Gonzalez claims in the article which also quotes the estimated cost of the project to be in the range of $1-2 million dollars.

Additional benefits of a Monolithic dome—energy efficiency, low-maintenance, strength, longevity, the ability to survive any natural disaster and withstand fires, termites and rot—were listed in the article.

Wileman quotes Reid as saying, “The dome gym will be more energy efficient than previous models. In fact, places like Arizona, who have built several domed facilities, their energy costs were reduced by as much as 50%.” He says he plans to delay the additions of heating and cooling units because of the Monolithic dome’s insulation.

Reid credits Lauterbach’s dedication to the Monolithic dome project, accepting less fees than other consultants, as key to getting the gymnasium planned and underway, in the article.

Gonzalez Architects has designed and built many facilities, but this will be their first Monolithic dome. He says, “This is going to be a very interesting and exciting project,” in the article. He is confident that the construction will go smoothly and doesn’t anticipate any problems.

We are excited to see the results of this Monolithic dome gym collaboration. Construction is anticipated to begin in August and will take up to eight months. They are hoping to have it completed in time for next year’s graduation.

Read the Sierra Star’s story, Bass Lake District gets approval on domed gym in its entirety for more details.