Architect Rick Crandall on the Unique Features of Monolithic Domes

Asked what attracts folks to a Monolithic Dome, Rick Crandall of Crandall Design Group, Mesa, AZ said, “More and more people are discovering that there are advantages to a Monolithic Dome — unique features — simply not available in traditional architecture.”

Why a Monolithic Dome?

“More and more people are discovering that there are advantages to a Monolithic Dome — unique features — simply not available in traditional architecture,” says architect Rick Crandall.

Initial Lower Costs – Under certain conditions, in some locales, the Monolithic Dome System has saved up to 30% over conventional construction costs. In almost every case, there’s some savings if interiors are designed properly, using a radial fashion. The greatest cost savings occur in large, open assembly occupancies, such as gymnasiums, libraries, cafeterias, auditoriums, theatres, arenas, etc. Consequently, schools and colleges that could not afford a gym or indoor stadium find that they can with a Monolithic or Crenosphere Dome.

Energy Efficiency, Long Term Savings – A Monolithic Dome’s inherent thermal mass and thermo-siphoning out of the ground, as well as the wall penetration resistance of the insulation produce energy savings of up to 50% over current building types. Such savings open the way to more possibilities. For example, by using a Crenosphere Dome, a hockey league can build an ice arena in a sunbelt state. If it were not a Crenosphere, maintaining a comfortable interior temperature would be too costly and unprofitable.

Low Maintenance, Long Life, No Decay – A one-piece, concrete building can last for centuries without degradation, cracking or material creep. For Monolithic Dome homeowners, low maintenance is a big plus for senior citizens, the disabled, and busy families with a minimum of time or money for maintenance.

Unique Shape, New Style – The dome is an ancient shape that’s finding new acceptance. It has a unique style, encouraged and enhanced by modern construction methods.

Fireproof – Instances on record show that the concrete shell is impervious to fire and will not spread a fire or collapse from heat.

Highly Secure – The inherent strength of a Monolithic Dome’s concrete walls and roof make exterior assault, bombs, bullets and burglary nearly impossible.

Sky Shell – When you trowel the interior dome surface smooth and coat it with a sky blue color, it creates the illusion of an exterior sky. Below that sky, you can build mountains to climb, castles to explore or just about anything imaginable. This is a low-cost approach to a popular technique used by Disney, Las Vegas, planetariums and even modern churches.

Rotating Structure – Telescope platforms and other rotating uses, including homes, have been built within a round dome. Their use for radar housing is also an advantage.

Buried Building, Below Grade – With the Airform’s resistance to moisture penetration and the concrete’s resistance to compression, the Monolithic Dome lends itself to below grade construction.

Interior Hanging Strength – A Monolithic Dome’s ceiling and walls can safely tolerate various hanging features, such as balconies, mezzanines, walkways, press boxes, galleries, score boards, audio and video housing, etc.

Near-Absolute Protection From Tornadoes and Hurricanes – Winds, 300 MPH and more, have little effect on the basic dome shape and because the dome is Monolithic, it will not come apart in pieces.

Remote Site, Materials Availability – Simple construction methods and locally available materials make dome construction in remote areas relatively easy and fast. Monolithic Domes have been built in all parts of the world, from the arid desert to the Arctic Circle.

Underwater – As they can be built underground, Monolithic Domes also can be built underwater.

Alternate Atmosphere – Monolithic Domes can be pressurized to vary air pressure and atmosphere, and act as biological containment vessels.

Cold Weather Building, Low Temperature – Adverse weather that often delays traditional construction has less effect on dome construction, since so much of the work occurs inside the Airform.

Round Circulation Pattern, Radial Design – In schools, round patterns eliminate the need for corridors; in theaters and churches, they provide more seating space and better visibility.

Long-span Column, Free Interiors – Long spans of up to 880 feet have already been calculated, with possibilities of extending even further.

Ancient, Traditional Shape – Various cultures want round buildings. They want to recapture the religious symbolism of their culture, reacquaint themselves with traditional shapes such as the Hogan, and resurrect ancient building profiles.

Seismic Resistant – Its symmetrical shape and strength give the dome an ability to survive earthquakes.

Economical Bulk Storage, Strength Capacity – The Monolithic Dome has the ability and strength to store high volume materials within certain angles of repose.

Termite Proof, Vermin Resistant – In different parts of the world, insect and vermin infestations can shorten a wooden building’s life by a decade. But a concrete shell structure is impervious to this problem.

Lower Insurance Rates – Because a Monolithic Dome is nearly indestructible, it can be insured at lower rates.