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Architect Rick Crandall on the Unique Features of Monolithic Domes

Architect Rick Crandall is sold on Monolithic Domes. He says that in addition to lower costs, energy efficiency and disaster protection, a Monolithic Dome can provide a structure with unique features such as a radial design, an interior hanging strength and a column-free, clear-span interior.

An innovative architect sold on the Monolithic Dome’s versatility

Rick Crandall — Since the early 1990s, Architect Rick Crandall, head of Crandall Design Group in Mesa, AZ, has been designing a full range of Monolithic Domes. The pictures that follow include some of those projects.

“It’s the stretch!” That’s what Rick Crandall, one of Monolithic’s consulting architects, credits for his continued interest in Monolithic Domes. This Arizonian recalls that in 1996 when his association with the Monolithic Dome Institute first began, two factors fueled his interest in domes. “I was persuaded by the good experiences I had working with David South and other architects in the first four or five projects we did,” Crandall says. “But another factor was equally compelling: the stretch.”

An Architect’s Sketch Book: Domes For Tomorrow II

Sample Pages — front cover

Architect Rick Crandall’s Domes For Tomorrow II is an idea book of innovative, unique Monolithic Dome designs. It includes color photographs and/or drawings of Monolithic facilities designed as schools, churches, homes, gymnasiums, a theater, a shopping center, a nightclub, a planetarium, a yacht club, an apartment complex, a hotel, a theme park, a golf course, a library, a hospital, offices, a bakery, a detention facility, and aircraft hangars. 

Le Chateau de Lumiere-An Experiment In Beauty And Practicality

Le Chateau de Lumiere — Architectural design of the Crandall home derives from a 17th century farm house. The driveway, in colored, textured concrete, creates a beautiful entry.

“A very satisfying experiment!” That’s how Rick Crandall, MDI’s consulting architect, describes the construction of his new Monolithic Dome home in Lehi, Arizona, that he and wife Melody call Le Chateau de Lumiere or Castle of Light. Rick readily admits that between January 3, 2000 and January 3, 2001 he and Melody and their contractor Robert Johnson of Stetson Construction were not just building another Monolithic Dome home. “The purpose of this project was to do things that had not yet been done in other domes,” he said. “We had three goals — or areas of testing.”

Dometown, USA

Insurance and energy will cost far less. And they will last for centuries.

MDI president David B. South and retired architect Rick Crandall gazed into their crystal ball and did some informed speculating on life in a future community called Dometown, USA. Their shared thoughts are thought provoking!

Monolithic Theme Park Domes: Bringing Fantasies Down To Earth

Winter Wonderland- You are in Switzerland, skating on a beautiful trail that opens onto a large ice pond. You spend the day exploring the ice caves, riding the tram to the restaurant lodge, or shopping in the village. The Monolithic Dome makes this possible in even the hottest areas of the world.

Monolithic Domes — those sturdy, most stationery of stationery structures — have entered a new realm — the realm of fantasy. Rick Crandall, Consulting Architect, says, “Monolithic Domes make perfect fantasy domes, and they are rapidly gaining popularity for fantasy environments such as those in theme parks, water parks, zoos, theaters, planetariums — even shopping malls.”

New Monolithic Dome Multipurpose Center at Avalon

Avalon, Texas Multipurpose Center  — This Monolithic Dome gymnasium and center has a diameter of 124 feet and a height of 37 feet that includes a 12-foot-high stemwall.

While the population count of Avalon, Texas may be in doubt and small, its pride and interest in their school is not. Most recent proof of that is Avalon’s new Multipurpose Center, for its 250 students in pre-kindergarten to Grade 12. Designed by Monolithic Architect Rick Crandall and built with a 12’ stemwall, this Monolithic Dome measures 124′ × 25′ with a total height of 37 feet.

Beautiful mountain cabin ready for spring finish

The Heywood family cabin started over a year ago and is almost complete. It is in the deep snow of northern Arizona so they have to wait until spring to complete it. The dome is 58-feet diameter with three levels surrounding a central gathering room.

New Jersey Church Planning Monolithic Dome

St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Christian Church in New Jersey may soon be the first congregation in the state to build a Monolithic Dome. The new structure, which is pending approval from the Belleville Zoning Board, would serve as a youth center.

A desert escape

Cabin

A family’s summer cabin in Northern Arizona offers an escape from the heat of the desert, all inside a Monolithic Dome.

Exterior Design 101

In the Beginning — Every home in its beginning stage is bare. Exterior elements provide interest and variety. Banding used to connect the two domes adds horizontal lines and gives the dome a lineal feel.

When deciding to build a home, most people focus on interior floor plan, while the exterior often becomes an afterthought. Yet, it’s the home’s exterior that governs that all-important first impression your home creates.

June 2003: School of Communication Arts to Build Unique Dome Campus

The School of Communication Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina is unique in more ways than one. It was one of the first schools in the world to offer instruction in high-end computer animation, and its graduates have gone on to work on major motion pictures such as Star Wars and the Matrix.

St Joseph Catholic Church: A blending of old and new

Architectural blending — A long wall connects St. Joseph’s new Monolithic Dome church with the original church, a small, traditional structure that now serves as the Parish Hall. Both the connecting wall and the stemwall of the dome are made of cut face block that looks like brick.

Most people really like what they see, hear and feel when they visit the recently completed St. Joseph Catholic Church in Commerce, Texas. And with its completion, the original church became the Parish Hall. “That was how we planned to do this right from the start,” Rev. George Monaghan said. “But that became one of our first challenges.” The pastor and his planning committee wondered what kind of a new structure would fit well with the old. They suspected that only something cornered and traditional would fit architecturally, but they wanted a structure that was energy-efficient, low maintenance, affordable and durable. Was that possible?

Trinidad School District Gymnasium and Field House

This super energy efficient Monolithic Dome Gymnasium is now a tornado shelter as well.  The power savings will equal the cost of the building in less than 20 years.  The lifetime is expected to be centuries.

Trinidad, a Texas rural community of 1100 and school district with about 300 students, has been using its Monolithic Dome gymnasium and field house for about seven years now, since their completion in October 2004.  

Faith Chapel Christian Center

Faith Chapel Christian Center — Located in Birmingham, Alabama, this Monolithic Dome mega church was built in 2000. It is a 280ft diameter dome with 61,575sf (1.414 acre).

Birmingham, Alabama is home to the largest diameter Monolithic Dome church in the world. Built in 2000, Faith Chapel Christian Center measures 280-feet in diameter with a seating capacity of approximately 3,000. The dome encloses 61,575 square feet. The church was designed by Architect Rick Crandall and Dome Technology of Idaho Falls, Idaho built the dome shell.

Curved Dome Walls: Easy and Fun to Decorate

The indoor courtyard entry at the Atalaya del Vulcan

Monolithic Dome walls are not only good for our environment, safe from natural disasters and cost effective, they’re easy and fun to decorate. Yes, curved walls are finally coming into their own. What decorators used to puzzle over and dread now has them cheering and praising.

Bishop Nevins: Florida’s First Monolithic Dome School

Nightime Glow — Those sparkling structures are the four domes at Bishop Nevins Academy in Sarasota, Florida.

In the morning sunshine, approximately 500 students scrambled into the four new Monolithic Domes of Bishop Nevins Academy, a Catholic school in the Diocese of Venice in Sarasota, Florida. Most had seen the domes and even walked through them before. Nevertheless, excited shouts and ohs and ahs of wonder permeated the air. It was the first day of school — a school of unique round buildings.

It’s A Hit: NCTC’s Monolithic Dome Performing Arts Center

FSB at NCTC — The First State Bank of Gainesville, Texas sponsored the name of the new Performing Arts Center at North Central Texas College.

“The best experience we have ever had building anything,” said Dr. Steve Broyles, Dean of Administrative Services at NCTC (North Central Texas College) in Gainesville. He was talking about NCTC’s new Monolithic Dome Performing Arts Center at its grand opening dedication on April 8, 2005.

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.

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.

January 2006-Domes Make Debut at 06 International Builders Show

Monolithic Dome homes, steel-reinforced, all-concrete buildings that meet Federal Emergency Management Agency’s standards for near-absolute protection from hurricanes and cost up to 50 percent less to heat and cool than traditional buildings, will be making their debut at the 2006 International Builders Show in Orlando in January.

Monolithic Domes Create 25th Century Art School

School of Communication Arts — Roger Klietz, founder and president of SCA in Raleigh, North Carolina, designed the sculpture at its entrance.

“This looks like the art school of the 25th century!” According to Roger Klietz, founder and president of the School of Communication Arts (SCA) in Raleigh, North Carolina, that was the reaction one consultant had after seeing SCA’s new Monolithic Dome campus.

Monolithic Domes For Cold Storage

CALAMCO — These two domes, which are each 230 feet in diameter and 115 feet high, were built for the California Ammonia Co. (CALAMCO). Each dome is big enough to hold 600 semi-truck loads of apples.

Adaptability and affordability are key words when you’re talking about Monolithic Domes built as cold storage facilities. “It’s a matter of you tell us what you want and need, and we will help you design and build it,” said Monolithic’s President David B. South. “We can do a cold storage dome of just about any size — small ones with diameters of 75 feet or less, giant ones with diameters of 200+ feet, or anything in between.”

New cafeteria dome provides shelter in tornado area

Cafeteria dome entrance

A new Monolithic Dome now stands on the school grounds where a tornado came tearing through 23 years ago. Catoosa, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, was the site of a F4 storm in 1993 that killed seven people and injured many more. Thanks to a new Monolithic Dome, people at the school can now feel safe from another such storm.

Community open house for Catoosa dome

Ribbon cutting

The Catoosa Cafeteria Monolithic Dome held an open house this week. The ceremony publically celebrated the opening of the domed addition to the school.

Texhoma’s Showplace: A New, Monolithic Dome School

Old and new — In 1910 Texhoma built its first brick building, and in 2000 it built its first Monolithic Dome school facility.

“We’re so big it takes two states to hold us!” So says the town of Texhoma. Now Texhoma has a new, pride worthy accomplishment: a beautiful Monolithic Dome facility for its 426 students, in grades five through 12. The campus features two Monolithic Domes, 108 feet and 66 feet in diameter, connected with conventional construction.

Grand Meadow, Minnesota: A Grand Campus of 5 Monolithic Domes!

ISD 495 in Grand Meadow, Minnesota — That school district received plan approval and a grant from its state legislature for twice the money it requested for the construction of five Monolithic Domes.

It’s not often that a school district gets plan approval and a grant from its state legislature for twice the money the school district asks for. But Grand Meadow, Minnesota ISD #495 did! On September 15, 1998 Grand Meadow voters passed a bond for $8 million for a much needed Kindergarten through Grade 12 facility. For its 400 students and 30 teachers, Grand Meadow’s approved plan calls for five Monolithic Domes.

A Super Gymnasium: Gladiator Coliseum

Gladiator Coliseum at Italy, Texas High School — This Monolithic Dome  has a diameter of 148 feet, two stories with seating for 1500, a gym with a walking track, an auditorium, classrooms for special activities, concession stands, ticket booths, locker rooms and bathrooms, and concrete parking areas. Its 2002 construction cost: $85 per square foot.

Once the 2000 residents of Italy, Texas, where Monolithic is headquartered, passed a $2 million bond for a Multipurpose Center, administrators began researching popular construction of school facilities. Superintendent Mike Clifton said, “Of course we were all familiar with the domes. We had a good overview. But we really had to see for ourselves, so we visited Thousand Oaks — a dome already operating — and we came away convinced.”

Domed safe rooms disguised as gymnasium, cafeteria, and community center

Rendering of nearly complete safe-room / gymnasium for St. Joseph High School in Victoria, Texas.

The architect addressed an audience of school administrators. He proclaimed that no one can affordably build large safe rooms. The best a school could do are small rooms for refuge in an emergency. He was followed by David South who said, yes, you can build a large safe room — disguised as a gym.

Locust Grove, Oklahoma: Sold on Monolithic Domes

Locust Grove, Oklahoma is a small community with just 1,200 residents. But in 2007, they passed a bond to add Monolithic Domes to their campus.

Locust Grove, Oklahoma may not be big and it may not be famous and it may not be wealthy, but it is wise. In 2007, this community of just 1200 residents passed a bond to build an arena for its high school. On the advice of School Superintendent David Cash, they went Monolithic.

The passing of the Airform pioneer

Jack Boyt

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Arthur J. “Jack” Boyt, Jr. Jack is the pioneer of Airform membrane design and a key figure in the Monolithic Dome industry from nearly its beginning. He passed away on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the age of 93 in his home in Ankeny, Iowa.

Park University Sports Center: Monolithic Domes for an Underground College

Park U at night — Exterior lighting enhances the beauty of the twin Monolithic Domes.

“Park University is a modern-day pioneer, exploring, expanding and extending its programs,” said Dr. Donald Breckon, president of this 120-year-old, unique college in Parkville, Missouri. Built among bluffs and wooded hills, Park University overlooks the Missouri River. That, in itself, is not unusual. But buildings constructed largely of limestone mined from below the campus is, and that’s just what Park College has at its home campus.

Tolchii Kooh’s Monolithic Dome Schools – 1998

Traditional Decor — Entrances to the Monolithic Domes are enhanced with traditional Native American patterns.

When the Native American community saw their need for not one, but two, new school facilities on its Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, they got innovative. Superintendent Mark Sorenson explained, “We designed Tolchii Kooh to be like a district office, with Leupp and Little Singer as independent schools, subcontracted to Tolchii Kooh.”

Monolithic Domes and Hail Damage

Recently, a school superintendent interested in a Monolithic Dome for his campus told me about a conversation he had with an architect, who will remain nameless. According to the superintendent, the architect had told him that Monolithic’s Airform fabric and sprayed-in foam insulation were “fragile and would sustain severe damage in a hailstorm.” I’m always concerned about such statements.