Strength & Durability of Dome Buildings

Monolithic Domes have real strength. They can withstand the force of a tornado, hurricane or earthquake. They cannot burn, rot or be eaten by bugs. Their lifespan is measured in centuries. Hence they do not need to be replaced.

In the article, “FEMA – Design and Construction for Community Shelters and Its Application to Domes,” Dr. Arnold Wilson, a prominent engineer and pioneer in thin-shell technology, said, “After reviewing the FEMA requirements for a structure capable of providing a safe shelter for people in areas where hurricanes and tornados represent a real danger, the Monolithic Dome, because of its very nature, heads the list for economy and strength to resist the extreme loads. The reinforced, concrete, double-curve surface of a dome is extremely aerodynamic. Domes have been designed to resist winds of 400 mph. Because of the egg-shaped surface the extreme winds can be resisted usually with only minor increases in materials and labor. Conventional buildings have walls connected to foundations and to roofs with specially designed connectors while a Monolithic Dome is continuously attached throughout with steel reinforcement greatly in excess of that required to resist extreme wind forces. Therefore, the Dome solves the safety issue by utilizing the entire structure to provide “near-absolute” protection.”

In 2004, Mark Sigler and a television crew from MSNBC decided to “ride out” hurricane Ivan inside the Sigler’s “Dome of a Home,” in Pensacola Beach, Florida. Valerie Sigler journaled her view of the hurricane during the night: “2:30 AM – The eye of Hurricane Ivan is now making landfall. Pensacola Beach is in absolutely the worst position (upper right hand quadrant – east) as the storm arrives. Most of the MSNBC crew is asleep. Asleep? I guess that is testament to the confidence the crew had in the home and the fact that the noise from the storm was not unbearable. Mark is awake listening as the wind intensifies and the water is crashing across the island. The storm surge and rain caused five feet of water to rise underneath the dome. Mark says he can hear debris crashing into the dome, but does not feel any movement of the dome from the surging Gulf although the water is flowing over the entire island.”

Some years ago, a group in Colorado built a small dome about 60′ in diameter, 30′ high and 2″ thick. It had windows, a door, and a large opening, about 40′ wide, on one side. After several years of use, the owners decided to sell the property. But the new owner wasn’t interested in keeping the dome, so he hired a local contractor to remove it. After inspecting the dome, the contractor said that he could remove it in less than one day. He considered using a large front-end loader to lift the dome on the side opposite its wide entrance. This, he thought, would cause the dome to collapse, and the concrete could then be broken up and hauled away. But when he actually tried this, it didn’t work. His heavy equipment would not lift one side of the dome. The contractor then brought up his crane with a large steel wrecking ball meant to knock down the dome in short order. That did not work. Hours of pounding on the dome just made it look like a giant piece of Swiss cheese. It took the contractor more than a week to remove the dome.