Practical Universal Design Ideas for the Dome Home Builder

Ecker Dome Home

How long are you planning to stay in your dream-dome? Probably decades and well into your elder years. With this in mind and a need for some practical, low- or no-cost universal design elements to handle physical needs, we offer these practical ideas that we incorporated into our dome.

The Foundation: Using an Integrated Floor System

Airform Ready

When it comes to building a Monolithic Dome’s foundation, do-it-yourselfers have a choice: they can contract the concrete work, or with able-bodied help they can tackle the job themselves.

At Home in the Dome

David Smith first learned about Monolithic Dome construction 13 years ago, and has been a fan every since. In fact, he has been so impressed with the buildings that he started a dome-building business called Smith Family Dome Home Builders.

Innovative Buildings for an Innovative School

Robert L. Duffy High School, which will open its doors this fall in Phoenix, is a different kind of school. While it does offer core curriculum classes in English, math, social studies and science, it also has career-focused classes designed to help students get an entry-level job in the field of their choice. It’s fitting, therefore, that this innovative curriculum will be housed in innovative buildings—three monolithic dome school buildings to be exact.

Rebuilding with Monolithic Technology

At Monolithic, we have developed a simple structure to provide for the basic needs of a family. It’s a Monolithic EcoShell dome, designed specifically to answer the needs of shelterless people worldwide.

Potentially the Greenest of All Buildings

With hurricane season just around the corner, there’s a renewed focus on the Monolithic Dome’s ability to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s standards for near-absolute protection. Or as one blogger recently put it, people are interested in dome homes partly because they are the “most comfortable storm shelter you could ever live in.” But the article posted on the site,, went on to recount the many other advantages offered by these so-called ”super structures,” and there are many.

Ribbon Cutting for Dome School Planned for May 19

It took four bond elections and more than six years, but the small Kansas town of Leoti is finally getting a new Monolithic Dome school to replace its 85-year-old elementary school building. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for May 19 on the first of three dome structures that are under construction.

A Delightful New Product: The Monolithic Gazebo

The Monolithic Gazeedome — This dome-shaped, long-lasting, low maintenance gazebo was designed by Mike South, using EcoShell I technology.

Using EcoShell I technology, our Vice President and Operations Director, Mike South, recently designed a dome-shaped gazebo that has a 20-foot diameter, is not only quick and easy to build, but is long-lasting, low maintenance and very versatile.

Xanadu Resort Earns a Green Globe

The Xanadu Resort in Belize was the first Monolithic Dome resort in Central America and the Caribbean when it opened in 1998. Now it can lay claim to another first. The property recently became the first Green Globe Certified Island Resort in the town of Ambergis Caye, according to The San Pedro Sun.

Texas Dome Home Has Curve Appeal

Texans tend to be independent minded, and for a small but growing group, that sense of independence extends to their choice of home. There are 169 Monolithic Dome homes in the Lone Star State, and more than half of them were built in the last six or seven years.

Dome Homes Land on Green Home Website

As the name implies, is a new web site dedicated to helping consumers choose low-cost, environmentally friendly homes. It features a variety of green building systems that are proven to save from 30 to 90 percent on heating and cooling bills. Not surprisingly, Monolithic Dome homes made the cut.

A Dome-Building Revolution

Metro News is Canada’s largest free national newspaper reaching about 1.1 million readers from coast to coast. This week, the paper’s environmental columnist put the focus on Monolithic Domes, proclaiming that dome-shaped schools just may spark a building revolution.

A Tribute to Freda Parker

Two happy cruisers — Freda and James Parker enjoyed a Caribbean cruise to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary and Freda’s 75th birthday.

For more than a dozen years, Freda (Grones) Parker has been Monolithic Inc.’s head writer, reporter and historian. Most of the articles in the Roundup Magazine and Monolithic’s website were written by her, along with several of our books. This month, Freda celebrates two major milestones: her 10th wedding anniversary and her 75th birthday. In appreciation for all of her efforts on our behalf over the years, we wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to her many accomplishments.

Disaster Recovery Domes Coming to Texas

What’s one of the first things people need right after a hurricane? According to Peter Fedele, the answer is cash. That’s why he is building a Monolithic Dome outside of Houston to store ATMs, mobile banks, satellite communication equipment, and back up generators for financial institutions.

EcoShells Changing Lives in Mexico

Since earthquakes struck Haiti and Chile earlier this year, interest in EcoShells has been at an an all-time high. Relief agencies from all over the world have been calling Monolithic to find out more about this unique type of building that has been proven to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes and yet can be built entirely by hand using local labor.

Monolithic Dome Entertainment Centre Planned for Palm Springs, CA

Super Sound Stage 1

A one-of-a-kind, ultra-green Digital Studio and Entertainment Centre is planned for a five-acre site in Palm Springs, at Cathedral City, California. In this desert location, Monolithic Domes are the ideal “green” construction to oppose the severe desert conditions of extreme summer heat, the intense desert winds and earthquakes.

Pensacola Paper Puts Spotlight on New Dome Home

The Simmons’ new dome home in Jay, Florida is making news again. This time it is the subject of a feature story in the Pensacola News Journal. Charlie Simmons, an engineer, told the newspaper that he wanted to build a dome home because of its many advantages including its resistance to hurricanes and fire. “Engineers like that,” Charlie told the newspaper. “Function over form.”

Two New Domes for El Dorado Chemical Company

Two domes; two purposes  — Smaller dome was designed as a warehouse for various bulk chemicals. Larger dome was designed as a blending plant and includes eight storage bins and state-of-the-art equipment for mixing various fertilizers.

El Dorado Chemical Company now has two new Monolithic Domes. The smaller dome, that has a 40-foot diameter, will warehouse various bagged chemicals. The larger dome has a 95-foot diameter, eight storage bins and state-of-the-art equipment for the blending of various fertilizers. A giant, metal, patio cover connects the two.

Starting a Monolithic Dome Construction Company

Applying Shotcrete — Workshop attendees get the opportunity to spray concrete on a Monolithic Dome during one of our Workshops.  The first layer of shotcrete gets sprayed on approximately 1/2" thick.

Starting and operating a Monolithic Dome construction company is a challenge. It is not for the faint of heart. But how else can you have the sense of accomplishment you get from building such fine structures, using your own skills? Your efforts will benefit others, and you will leave a legacy of buildings that will be used throughout the next millennium.

Florida Dome Home Featured in Online Newspaper

Like many Americans, Charlie and Margaret Simmons opted to retire in Florida. Unlike most other retirees, they decided to make their retirement home a Monolithic Dome. The online newspaper, recently profiled the Simmons’ new dome home in a feature story, touting its many benefits that range from energy efficiency to durability.

A Cold Study Brings A Gratifying Result

First snowfall of the season — Home of Chris and Maddy Ecker circa 2010

So you’re nested in the mountains and up comes a cold spell. What to do? Maddy and I decided to turn our dome-in-progress into a controlled laboratory with the goal of putting the thermodynamics of thin shell concrete domes to the test.

The Daracel: A Monolithic Dome Milking Parlor with a Carousel

Daracel Dairy Production System — Developed by Thomas G. Miller, the Daracel is a circular, rotating milking system ideally suited for enclosure in a Monolithic Dome.

Recently, Thomas G. Miller, a resident of Orem, Utah with many years of experience in the dairy industry, approached Monolithic with a new idea. At least, it was new to Monolithic, but not new to Mr. Miller. He’d been working on the idea of a Daracel for a long time. “Dara,” said Mr. Miller, “is short for dairy and cel is short for carousel.”

21st Century School: Grand Meadow in Minnesota

In a special section on the 21st century school, The Post-Bulletin in Rochester, Minnesota highlighted a number of innovations ranging from new teaching methods to state-of-the-art building styles. There’s Gibbs Elementary, set to open later this year, which features interactive white boards that can display videos and other high-tech material. There are the 5,000 Minnesota students who are taking all of their classes online. And then there’s arguably the most innovative school of all, and it’s Grand Meadow School, which opted to build five Monolithic Dome buildings in 2002. Eight years after it opened, the school is still making news. And it’s not just the shape that makes the school noteworthy. Superintendent Joe Brown reports that the school saves 25 percent per year on maintenance and energy costs.

Monolithic Ecoshells in Developing Nations

Check out this video describing the Monolithic Ecoshell and why it is the choice for housing in developing nations. They are strong structures that can withstand natural disasters, fire, termites and rot. In underdeveloped areas with hot climates, EcoShells make affordable, low maintenance, sturdy housing.

iPhone Dome Calculator

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.

District Administration Magazine Spotlights Woodsboro

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to help fund construction of a Monolithic Dome in Niangua, Missouri, an area that had been hit by tornadoes in the past, school officials across the nation took notice. When FEMA announced in December that it was also going to help fund a Monolithic Dome in South Texas, the media started taking notice too.

Plans for Haiti

The drawings here represent proposed plans for the rebuilding of Haiti. Monolithic is doing everything it can to make this happen for this struggling country.

Scared into Going Monolithic!

The Watts Monolithic Dome Home — Harrilyn and Rudy built their dome home 21 miles south of Chipley, Florida in tornado country.

Most folks just don’t associate Florida with tornadoes. Most think of Florida as hurricane country. But Harrilyn and Rudy Watts know better. They live 21 miles south of Chipley. It has a population of about 3600, a motto that describes it as “A small town with a proud heritage and a bright future” – and tornadoes.

Carolina Dome Home Draws Crowds

The Cagle family had planned to build a traditional home along the Carolina coast before Hurricanes Bonnie and Fran slammed onshore. It wasn’t so much the severity of the storms that made the Cagles change their minds. It was actually the stringent new building codes that caused them to reconsider their construction choices.

Exterior Window Treatments: A Primer

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.

FEMA Provides Grant to Build Monolithic Dome School

A third school district has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build a Monolithic Dome school. The Dodge City Daily Globe is reporting that FEMA will provide a $345,000 grant to USD 225 in Fowler, Kansas to cover a portion of the construction costs of a new school facility, which meets standards for near-absolute protection from tornadoes and hurricanes.

Austin Chronicle Puts Monolithic on its Gift List

With Christmas just a few days away, have you decided what you’ll be getting for that hard-to-buy person on your list? The Austin Chronicle is urging its readers to check out the Monolithic Dome gifts that we showcase on our website.

Considerations for Arched Window Bucks in Airform Augments

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.

Dome Homes Featured on Green Living Blog

These days news travels faster than ever with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook adding to the viral nature of the Internet. So it’s no surprise that Monolithic Domes are making news on blogs and other Internet sites dedicated to green housing.

December 2009: South Texas Community Wins FEMA Grant

The city of Woodsboro is receiving a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund construction of a “Monolithic Dome school gymnasium/community center”: /topics/sports that will double as a county disaster shelter. Woodsboro is located near the Texas Gulf Coast and has sustained damage from Hurricane Ike and other severe storms.

Woodsboro Wins $1.5 Million FEMA Grant to Build Safe Dome School

The city of Woodsboro is receiving a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund construction of a Monolithic Dome school gymnasium/community center that will double as a county disaster shelter. Woodsboro is located near the Texas Gulf Coast and has sustained damage from Hurricane Ike and other severe storms.

Dome Homes Planned for Peru

An Idaho real estate investor will help the world go round when she breaks ground next February on 139 Monolithic Dome homes in Chiclayo, Peru. The project will be a first for Sube International LLC, which Lynda Eggimann founded earlier this year to build dome homes in the developing world.

Fertilizer Blend Plants: A Growing Demand

Eldorado Chemical Blend Plant — Located in Bryan, Texas the large dome is 95 feet in diameter and the smaller is 40 feet in diameter. The large dome has a 3000 ton capacity.

A Monolithic Dome makes an ideal fertilizer blend plant that mixes, packages, stores and distributes specialty chemicals for various agricultural purposes. These domes contain many large bins used to store phosphorus, potash and nitrogen in various forms, as well as other micronutrients such as iron, chrome or zinc. From these ingredients, hundreds of different fertilizer formulas can be created.

Geronimo! Bond Passed!

Geronimo, Oklahoma — A whopping 73% of Geronimo’s voters passed a $5.7 million bond, $4 million of which was slated for the construction of five Monolithic Domes.

There’s not much to look at as you drive up Interstate 44 from Texas into Oklahoma – until you get a bit south of Lawton. Then, surprise, surprise! Off to your right you spot the rounded tops of a cluster of copper colored Monolithic Domes, just sitting there in the middle of what appears to be nowhere. It isn’t. It’s Geronimo, Oklahoma, 0.53 square miles of Comanche County and home for almost 1000 residents.

Las Vegas dome owners plan to persevere

Work in progress — David And Su-Z Allen’s home is a work in progress in Las Vegas, Nevada.

David and Su-Z Allen can relate to the old phrase that even the best-laid plans often go awry. In the process of building their new Monolithic Dome home, “emergencies keep cropping up,” Su-Z told a reporter for The View newspaper in Las Vegas. But even though it is not yet finished, the Fenix Dome is an “impressive and eye-catching structure,” according to the article. “There is literally nothing like it in town.”

Iowa Family Explains Why There’s No Place Like Dome

Rendering — Rendering of Jay and Jeanne Hansen home.

Jay and Jeanne Hansen say they like to be different, and that’s one of the reasons why they opted to build a Monolithic Dome home. “We don’t like to copy what other people do; we like to do things that stand out,” Jay Hansen told Iowa television news station KWWL.

To Every American in favor of Green Housing

For thirty plus years America’s leaders have been wanting more energy efficient, more hazard resistant, more cost efficient green structures for houses, churches, schools, etc. To those leaders and citizens we now say: We have such structures! Please implement the rules to allow them to happen.

Why build a concrete dome?

Load testing — Load testing a small thin-shell dome at the BYU laboratories.

The concrete dome is similar in shape and structure to an egg which has always been a fascination. The egg shows us that a relatively soft and weak material can be used to create a very strong structural shape. A simple demonstration illustrating the strength of an egg was made using a 2′ × 10′ wood plank, supported on one end by a rigid support and on the other end by one hard boiled egg. Four bags of Portland Cement were placed on the plank, at center span, one at a time, for a total of 376 pounds or 188 pounds on one egg. The shell did not crack! Such is the strength of some domes.

Epoxy Floors

Garage floor — A properly installed epoxy floor can beautify a garage and enhance the value of a house.

Epoxy coatings are a simple way to improve the appearance and maintenance of a garage floor.

Podcast: Strengthening Churches

Monolithic Podcast

Spacious and spectacular Monolithic Dome churches provide near absolute protection from fire, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Southern Sudan Education Project

A Southern Sudan school — Typical primary school in Southern Sudan. Inside the mud huts children sit on dirt mounds and are not protected from termites and harsh weather.

On Friday, December 2, 2005, the Southern Sudan Education Project (SSEP) held a banquet and fundraiser at the Utah Multicultural Center in Salt Lake City. The keynote speaker for the event was Manute Bol— best known as the “Tallest man in the world.”