August 2010 – Media Advisory: Woodsboro ISD

WHAT: Construction crews building a new multipurpose dome building for Woodsboro Independent School District will be turning heads on Wednesday, August 25 (weather permitting) when they use giant fans to inflate a huge balloon, known as an Airform to create the shape of the building, which will double as a community disaster shelter.

SUBE: Building Monolithic EcoShells in Peru

With little concern about hearing anything that might impact her life, in 2008 Lynda Eggimann, a real estate investor in Pocatello, Idaho, attended a real estate conference. But there she learned about Monolithic EcoShells and their ability to survive earthquakes. Lynda immediately thought about Peru, a country she knew well and visited frequently, that included loved ones, and that suffered from devastating earthquakes and poverty.

The Next Big Future? Ecoshells

The Next Big Future is a web site that reports on new technology and science that can “impact the future course of civilization.” It covers a variety of topics ranging from new university research to economic forecasts. A recent post focused on the home of the future - the Monolithic Dome – and specifically on the EcoShells that are being constructed in developing countries around the world.

The Ideal Data Center: A Monolithic Dome

Shelters  — Shown here are two Tornado/Hurricane Shelters.  These are for storing bank buildings and emergency response equipment.  They could as well be housing data centers.

Companies need secure buildings – especially if they host computer systems and store data. Monolithic Domes make secure, solid, permanent facilities that can withstand tornadoes, earthquakes, wild temperature fluctuations and even rifle fire.

Dome Storm Shelter Provides Safe Haven

“Open Dome” — Residents of Summit Ridge Estates, a manufactured home development in Pataskala, Ohio don’t worry too much about storms these days now that they have a their Monolithic Dome Shelter/Community Center.

Although a deadly tornado can strike anywhere, about half of all fatalities occur in manufactured homes, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. But residents of Summit Ridge Estates, a manufactured home development in Pataskala, Ohio don’t worry too much about storms these days. That’s because they have a Monolithic Dome storm shelter on their property that provides a safe haven when severe weather strikes.

Spray-in-Place Concrete Fences: How to Get Just the Look You Want

Spray-in-place security — Fence with washed aggregate surface

Monolithic has a 25-page manual that details the start-to-finish steps for building an attractive, permanent and economical concrete fence. It comes with diagrams and photos of the construction process and includes a discussion of shotcrete and concrete design mix.

A Monolithic Dome Home with Brick Walls!

Sty Manor — Joel Emerson and his dad, both creative, professional, master brick masons, designed this dome home encased in brick.

At one time, Joel Emerson, a professional, creative brick mason, jokingly told Debbie, his wife, that someday he would build her a brick igloo. In the years that followed, Joel learned about Monolithic Domes, and in 2003 he attended a Monolithic Workshop. So what started as a casual joke became a serious project – with a little modification: Joel’s original brick igloo became a Monolithic Dome enhanced with brick.

Monolithic Dome Housing for the Caribbean

Like most of the Caribbean islands, St. Lucia is vulnerable to hurricanes. On the average, a severe storm brushes the area about every four years. The last one was Hurricane Dean, which blew by with 100 mile per hour winds in 2007 and tore many roofs away, even in the elegant community of Vigie, Castries where residences are supposed to be built well. The area’s vulnerability to hurricanes is one of the reasons that real estate developer John Craciun is looking to build Monolithic Domes in St. Lucia and the wider Caribbean.

Fire in Monolithic Dome Extinguishes Itself!

Fire! — Apparently, a coffeepot started a fire in this Monolithic Dome rental unit.

A Thursday evening in September was quiet until the Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department were called to a fire in one of our rental domes. But the interesting part of this story is that the fire, inside the dome, extinguished itself!

Are Monolithic Domes’ exterior coverings fireproof?

The Monolithic Dome is as fire safe as you can build. The outside cover fabric can be damaged by fire. It can be covered using coatings, but if we are building in a high fire area, we recommend that the exterior of the dome get a 2” coat of concrete as well. Where we have done that, fire has passed right over the dome with virtually no damage.

How does Monolithic control/negate cracking as the concrete dries?

There is an old saying: “If you do not want concrete to crack leave it in the sack.” We subscribe 100% to that saying. So, what we do is control the effects of cracking by using reinforcing steel and/or other reinforcing such as basalt. Basalt rebar is relatively new, but as a replacement for steel rebar because it has the advantage of not rusting.

Can you turn an EcoShell into a Monolithic Dome?

The obvious answer is yes. Can you make it cheaper? Not in our opinion. One such process suggests inflating an EcoShell II Airform, applying stucco, foam, rebar and concrete, then peeling off the Airform so it can be reused. In Monolithic’s very early days, we peeled off Airforms for reuse.

Hurricane Keith Huffed and Puffed and…

Hurricane Keith — Satellite imagery of the hurricane as it plowed inland over Belize.

Two Monolithic Domes endured and survived Hurricane Keith’s rampage virtually unscathed! They are the Monolithic Domes at the Xanadu Island Resort owned and managed by Ivan and Judy Sheinbaum on Ambergris Caye.

Xanadu— A Dome in Paradise

Xanadu Island Resort — Ivan Sheinbaum’s first completed Monolithic Dome has three fully furnished apartment suites at Xanadu Island Resort.

Xanadu – Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined that name for his imagined paradise in 1797. Some two hundred years later, Ivan and Judy Sheinbaum began creating their Xanadu – a Monolithic Dome tropical island resort on Ambergris Caye in the West Caribbean nation of Belize.

Tune in to “This New House” on August 5

A Monolithic Dome home in Wisconsin will be featured on an upcoming episode of This New House a 13-part series that premiers on the DIY Network this summer. The episode, scheduled to air on Thursday, August 5 at 8 p.m,, will focus on the unique approach used to build the energy-efficient and disaster resistant dome home that overlooks Lake Michigan in Manitowoc.

Is the Monolithic Dome code compliant?

Yes, Monolithic Dome buildings comply and exceed all of the usual building codes in every way. In many cases the Monolithic Dome can be placed immediately adjacent to other buildings because of its superior fire code conformance. This can be really important in commercial buildings, schools, and churches.

Can I use steel fibers as the primary reinforcement?

Concrete is a fantastic construction material. However, the real strength of concrete is in compression. In tension, concrete has little reliable strength. We make up for lack of tension strength by using reinforcement. We have learned that steel reinforcement bar (rebar) adds the best tension strength for the lowest cost of any reinforcement material. Many other reinforcements are available.

Is the Monolithic Dome airtight?

Yes, the Monolithic Dome is much more airtight than a conventional building. This has obvious energy efficiency advantages. However, it also creates the need to provide for fresh air into the home.

Can a Monolithic Dome be built on permafrost?

Building on permafrost is tricky for any type of construction. The Monolithic Dome has some advantages. First it is much stronger than most buildings. And it is “Monolithic” or “one piece.” So if we can get it held up it will stay together through wind or weather or earthquakes. A few ways to make it work are listed.

Can a Monolithic Dome be buried and how deep?

For all intents and purposes you can bury a Monolithic Dome as deep as you want. Near the Rio Grande there is a 30 foot dome buried 28 feet underground. A heavily loaded dome tends to become like a cookie cutter, therefore, the footing must be wider to sustain the load. The structure itself needs a little more strengthening, too.

Can I build a dome over a basement?

Yes, but we do not recommend it. A basement is an uninsulated, concrete structure built using an expensive “forms” process. Then you build an insulated, concrete dome on top using a very efficient construction process. This is redundant and wasteful. It is easier, less expensive, and usually much better to build a larger dome.

Can I build a second floor?

Yes, but carefully consider your options. In a Monolithic Dome a second floor will probably not save any money. A series of low-profile domes connected together and using only one floor can have the same floor area at a similar cost. A second floor may be appropriate because of the cost of land or the purpose of the building, or you may simply prefer a multi-story building.

Should I use gas or electric in my Monolithic Dome?

We encourage our customers to stay away from using gas in a Monolithic Dome — either propane or natural. Domes are very tight. Any leakage from gas appliances can accumulate in the dome which can produce health problems.

Do I have to build it myself?

No, you do not have to build the dome yourself. Approximately 2500 prospective builders have attended our training classes and there are others who learned to build from our Training Pak. Many are now in the dome building business. We have names of several builders that would gladly help you build anywhere. We may also direct all work for you.

Does Monolithic offer how-to classes?

Yes, you can learn how to be your own Monolithic Dome builder! Training workshops are held at Monolithic Dome Institute headquarters just 50 miles south of Dallas at Italy, Texas.

How do I design a Monolithic Dome Home?

David South, President of Monolithic Dome Institute, Inc., says, people who are just thinking about building a Monolithic Dome home, but don’t know if they can afford to, need some convenient stopping points. So, MDI has initiated two different programs to do just that.

How long does it take to build a Monolithic Dome?

Monolithic Domes can be built quite quickly. In general it takes about six to eight weeks to get the Airform ready. Then about two to four weeks to build a house sized dome shell. Large buildings require about six to ten weeks.

Do I need to care for or coat the fabric Airform?

The Airform, used to form the shape of the dome during construction, is left on as an outer covering and first line of defense for a Monolithic Dome. It protects the polyurethane foam from the UV radiation of the sun and repels rain, snow, and more. The Airform takes a lot of abuse and requires care. It needs to be coated within five to ten years after a dome home is finished.

How Much Does A Monolithic Dome Cost?

There is so much variety in sizes, shapes, and uses of the Monolithic Dome that developing a general price sheet is impossible. Even within a single category such as homes, costs can vary drastically. A small, one bedroom home may cost only $45,000 where a three bedroom home, complete with chandeliers and gold plated faucets, could cost $500,000. What you put in your home is as important to its cost as whether you build a dome or a conventional structure. In an effort give a general idea of how much domes usually cost we have compiled the following guidelines. But just like your home, one size does not fit all. Click here to read more about the True Cost of a Dome Home.

Monolithic Domes: The Most Disaster-Resistant Home?

Al Fin, who lives in the Cayman Islands, has been a blogger since 2005 - long before the blogosphere was as popular as it is today. His primary interest: seeing that the best of humanity survives long enough to reach the next level.

Up and Down in the Round

Yuma Dome in Yuma, Arizona  — This staircase leads to the second and third levels in this multigenerational dome that encompasses eight suites, each with at least one bedroom, bathroom, sitting room, laundry area and closets. Dome has 3 stories, 84’ diameter, 40’ inside height, 11,000 square feet of living space.

Can a Monolithic Dome home have a loft? A stairway? An elevator? A basement? My answer is an emphatic yes to each, followed by an equally emphatic reservation: Carefully analyze your need and/or desire for any of these features and consider the alternatives.

Could Monolithic Airforms Play a Role in Containing BP Oil Spill?

Since April, British Petroleum has been trying to stem the flow of oil from a leaking deep-water well in the Gulf of Mexico. After a series of failed high-profile efforts, the company is currently trying to siphon off oil using a containment cap system and drilling relief wells aimed at stopping the flow by August. But with an estimated 60,000 barrels a day still gushing out of the well, the search is on for better solutions.

Some lessons are learned the hard way

Consequences of steel fiber — Use of steel fibers instead of rebar allowed the top of this dome to cave in twice during construction. To repair this dome, we installed a rebar grid covered with welded wire fabric and re-sprayed both the urethane and shotcrete.

One day in 1979 (we had been building Monolithic Domes for about three years) a US Steel Company salesman showed up selling steel fibers. He told me if I used steel fibers I would not have to use rebar in my Monolithic Domes anymore.

Considering a Second Floor?

Under Construction — Second floor and staircase during construction stage in the home of Gary Clark in Italy, Texas.

A second floor can be designed in a Monolithic Dome home. But we suggest you consider some important factors when deciding whether or not to put in a second floor in your Monolithic Dome home.

Very Small Town; Big Dome Home

The Simmons’ Dream Dome — Their retirement dome has a 50’ diameter, a height of 30’ and a living area of about 3400 square feet.

The town of Jay, in northwest Florida, has less than 600 residents in its 1.6 square miles. But this farming community, known for its peanuts, cotton, soybeans and hay, has a history of more than 100 years and an annual Peanut Festival. It’s got something else too: a technologically sophisticated Monolithic Dome home!

Dr. Arnold Wilson: A Pioneer Heads for Retirement

Visiting — Arnold Wilson visiting the Monolithic Dome Institute in Italy, Texas.

Referring to his 40-year teaching career as a Professor of Civil Engineering at Brigham Young University (BYU) and his more than 30 years as Monolithic’s Senior Consulting Engineer, Dr. Arnold Wilson said, “It’s just been a wonderful trip for me. It’s been exciting. I have done things that I had never even dreamed that I would do.”

There’s No Place like Dome

Dorothy dreamed of going back home to Kansas after losing her home to a tornado. Kay and Ernie Mudd never have to worry about their dream home because they built a super safe Monolithic Dome, which meets the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s standards for near-absolute protection.

The Roundhouse Down Under — A First!

Anthony (Tony) Clarke is one busy Aussie. He runs a migration office that helps immigrants to his country with their necessary, complex paperwork, is involved with industrial hemp, markets music videos and DVDs and serves his community as Justice of the Peace and a Knight of the Order of St. John Hospitalier. Nevertheless in April 2001, he found the time to travel to Italy, Texas and take one of Monolithic’s dome-building Workshops.

Domes in Future City Competition

Entry 1 — Three models of self-sustaining cities entered into the Future City competition during National Engineers Week in Washington, DC.

Structural Engineer C.V. Surendran of Surendran Consulting, LLC, Lubbock, Texas attended National Engineers Week, February 16-18 in Washington, DC. He sent us an email saying that several of the Future City entries featured domes. He thought it was interesting that students “came up with the idea that dome housing be the best, (although) they had never heard about Monolithic.”

Curlew Keep — Hard To Get To But Easy To Appreciate

Curlew Keep — The 2800-square-foot Monolithic Dome home that the Bremners planned and built.

For most Americans going to see a movie is no big deal! But what if you had to leave the country to do it? And what if you had to make sure you had valid, picture ID with you so you could re-enter the US? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what going to a movie entails for Dianne and Bryan Bremner, two sixty-something retirees who built a Monolithic Dome home in Republic, Washington, 25 miles south of a border crossing into Canada.

A Big Mom-and-Pop Project: The Pember Dome Home

The Pembers’ Monolithic Dome Dream Home — Ida and Dale combined know-how they gained in a Monolithic Workshop with years of  construction experience to personally do the shell construction and finishing. That grew into a 4-year project.

About ten years ago, the Pembers decided to build a new home, and, after investigating alternatives, decided to make that new home a Monolithic Dome. So Dale, a professional plumbing contractor, enrolled in the Spring 2001 Monolithic Workshop. What he learned, coupled with his years of experience in construction, convinced Dale that he and Ida – occasionally with help from friends – could build their dome home.

A Monolithic Dome Fire Station

Large firehouse — This firehouse can hold various emergency vehicles as well as provide sleeping quarters.

At Monolithic, we think fire stations should be indestructible. They house emergency response teams – the firefighters and paramedics a community needs when natural or man-made disasters strike.

Caledonia, Missouri Adds Two More Monolithic Domes

New Classrooms

Caledonia’s website proudly says that it has 33 homes on the National Historic Register, and its mayor states that visiting this “village” is like “stepping back in time – a 100 years back in time.” While all that is true, Caledonia also has five of the most modern structures available today: five Monolithic Domes.