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Julie Brown After hearing the sad story of a relative whose property was

seriously damaged in a tornado that ripped through Oklahoma, Julie decided

to complete the research-writing requirement for her college Philosophy class
by comparing the pros and cons of residential construction methods.

Research Paper Earns an A from College

Instructor and Monolithic
Freda Parker Published on Jun 29, 2010 Round To It

The Student
Julie Brown is a 42-year-old, university student working on her Masters
Degree in Library Science, with a minor in Adult Education. As part of this
past semesters philosophy class, Julie completed a research project that she
describes as, a proposal for the betterment of mankind that could be
presented as a law.
Her paper, Living Round, compares some popular methods of constructing
homes and their pros and cons, including ability to resist natural disasters
and environmental impact. She concludes that none surpasses the Monolithic
Dome and suggests that, Monolithic Domes be required for all new
residential construction.

Living Round by Julie Brown

A home should protect its occupants, keep them healthy, and sustain the
environment, all at an affordable price, yet in many cases it fails in some or
all of these duties: a child develops asthma from the volatile organic
compounds in the wall paint; another person develops cancer from
formaldehyde off-gassing from the kitchen cabinets; an expensive home is
demolished due to black mold contamination; a boy dies when a stray bullet
rockets through his bedroom wall; an elderly grandmother freezes to death in
her drafty old home; an acre of forest is clear-cut for the neighbors new
house; energy hemorrhages through the envelope of a wood-framed home; a
middle-income family shoulders immense debt for a residence; a 1950s
ranch is obliterated in a Kansas tornado; a family drowns when hurricane
storm surge floods their beach house; a California mansion burns to cinders
in a wildfire.
Since ancient times, humans have sought refuge from danger within caves,
mud huts, and tree houses, and although design and technology have

improved on this primitive shelter, most of todays homes do not meet what
Susannah Hagan calls sustainable architecture (3).
The environmental movement has a slew of buzz words like green, ecofriendly, and sustainable. Sustainable, according to Susannah Hagan, has a
broad meaning and encompasses environmental and social responsibility,
economy, health, and safety (3). Only one current construction method rates
well in all categories: the Monolithic Dome. To prevent loss of life, damage to
the environment, economic loss, and health risks; laws and building
regulations should mandate that Monolithic Domes, adapted to the specific
climate, be required for all new residential construction.
Each construction method today has its pros and cons, but the most
important aspect for a home remains the same as it did millennia ago, the
reason our ancestors did not live in the opensafety.
Who doesnt want to go to bed at night knowing that their home will keep
them safe from external forces? But what are these external forces? How
much damage is really done?
Across the globe, according to Marq De Villiers, The world can now expect
three to five major disasters a year that will each kill more than 50,000
people (4). Professor Sue Roaf adds that the economic loss from
catastrophes in 2003 alone accounted for over $60 billion in total damages,
with insurance losses at about $15 billion (71). The May 2003 tornadoes in
the Midwestern United States cost insurers $3 billion (71). The five natural
disasters topping the list in number of deaths and monetary cost are
hurricanes, floods (many related to hurricanes), tornadoes, earthquakes, and
Of the top ten most expensive disasters in FEMA payouts, eight of those are
hurricanes (Top Ten). Most casualties in hurricanes and typhoons are caused
not by the wind itself but by flooding, either by storm surges or heavy
rainfall. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 killed approximately 8000 persons;
Katrinas death toll was estimated at around 1200 (Hurricane). Hurricane
Camille, in 1969, struck the Mississippi coast with sustained winds over 190
miles an hour and a storm surge 25 feet above the mean tide levels,
pushing inland over a mile while knocking over apartment buildings and
submerging homes (De Villiers 215).
Hurricanes are large and deadly; their little sisters, tornadoes, are indeed
smaller, but just as deadly. They offer no warning and no time for evacuation.
The deadliest tornado on record for the United States was on March 18, 1925
when 695 persons were killed and over 2000 were injured (Harris 95). Each
year there are about 1,200 tornadoes in the United States that cause

approximately 65 fatalities, 1,500 injuries nationwide, and millions in

property damage (Tornado).
Tornadoes are vortexes that spin with ferocious speed. Tornado wind speeds
may exceed 465 miles an hour, containing energy not much less than the
20-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima (De Villiers 209). Nancy Harris
explains, Tornadoes do their destructive work through the combined action
of their strong rotary winds and the impact of windborne debris. The force
of the tornados wind pushes the windward wall of a building inward. The roof
is lifted up and the other walls fall outward. Sticks, glass, roofing material,
lawn furniture all become deadly missiles when driven by a tornados winds
For people living in or near tornado alleyTexas, Oklahoma, Kansas,
Nebraska, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Missouriany warm weather storm
could bring on the devastation. Mike Cox recounts a story exemplifying the
incredible feats of tornadoes: The 1927 Rocksprings tornado picked up a
familys home that faced south, spun in around, and set it back down facing
west; oddly, the house suffered little damage (102).
After tornadoes in the disaster list comes earthquakes. The earthquake prone
western regionCalifornia, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and
Alaskais riddled with dozens of fault lines. The second most expensive
disaster in U.S. history in regards to FEMA payouts is the 1994 Northridge
Earthquake in California in which 72 persons died (Top Ten).
More recently, the Haitian Government reported that an estimated 230,000
had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless by the
earthquake on January 12th of this year. They also estimated that 250,000
residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely
damaged (Haiti). The large death toll in Haiti is attributed to substandard
Fire disasters worsened when humans began to build cities. Houses packed
tightly together, walls held up by age-dried timbers, and roofs often made of
thatch or wood shinglesthese factors made perfect kindling for the great
historical fires called city burners.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 cut a swath through Chicago approximately
three and one-third square miles in size. Property valued at $192,000,000
was destroyed, 100,000 people were left homeless, and 300 people lost their
lives (Bales). More recently, the Southern California wildfires of 2003 killed
22 persons, destroyed 3000 homes, burned 700 acres of land, and cost over
one billion dollars (Roaf 98).

Mitigating the effects of these disasters requires common sense and resilient
buildings. The common sense factor plays a part in choosing a buildings
location as much as it does in the design of a building. In fact, some areas
are so prone to flooding that the same properties have flooded many times.
Why would anyone choose to live there?
No matter where you live, climate-related disasters are increasing, causing
some to predict the catastrophic collapse of the insurance industry (Roaf
345). Mandating the construction of resilient buildings is one way to prevent
the insurance industry collapse while mitigating the damage done by
Resilient buildings are tough, durable, and built to handle the excessive
stresses of climate change. They are examples of sustainable architecture
that keep the occupants cool in the summer and warm in the winter, protect
them from external forces, keep them healthy, maintain the environment,
and cost equal to or less than standard homes.
To evaluate various construction methods, most are compared to the
ubiquitous stick-frame house. Stick-frame homes score the lowest in
resiliency and sustainability, yet 90% of U.S. homes are made with this
method. Wood-framed homes have many inherent problems: they require a
great deal of labor and materials; they are susceptibility to fire, mold,
insects, pests, and rot; and they rate poorly on disaster resistance.

Safety: Stick-frame homes are not built to withstand disasters.

Hurricanes cause significant damage to wood-frame houses, forcing
the same house to be rebuilt several times. Flooding causes mold and
rot to begin immediately inside the enclosed walls, usually leading to
condemnation and demolition. These homes will also float off their

Earthquake damage will vary depending on several factors such as the

earthquakes magnitude, aftershocks, and the quality and style of
construction on each house, but in general, stick-frame homes rate belowaverage in earthquake safety.
When it comes to tornadoes, The Wizard of Oz was far from reality. Dorothys
farmhouse would have been demolished. Watch as an ATM camera catches
an F3 tornado as it destroys a stick-frame home in less than 30 seconds: ATM
video. In the following clip, a one-story farm house is hit by a tornado,
reducing the home to debris in about eight seconds while leaving the twostory home behind it untouched. The tornado crosses the road and hits the
home at the 8-second mark on the video; by the 16-second mark, the house
is gone. One-story ranch obliterated.

Fire, either external or internal, quickly consumes these houses. Using the
vertical wall cavities as chimneys and the wood as fuel, fire spreads rapidly
throughout the home. Fire destroys more homes annually than any other

Health: Disregarding interior structures such as cabinets and flooring,

which can be substituted in any home for health reasons, the pitfalls in
a home built with wood framing are many. Mold can thrive on wood
and drywall, contaminating the home with toxins. Insects such as
carpenter ants and termites actually eat the wood while other insects
and pests such as spiders, roaches, squirrels, mice, and rats nest in the
walls and in the attic.
Environment: Architect Eric Freed states that the average-sized
home (about 2000 square feet) uses an acre of forest (44 trees). These
trees are typically clear-cut (which leaves nothing for the future) (142).
These 44 trees are equivalent to sequestering 44 tons of carbon
dioxide over their lifetimes. Additionally, wood-frame walls require
insulation and waterproofing, yet they still leak the most energy of any
construction method.
Expense: Depending on region and discounting the land expense, the
average stick-frame home is 2700 square feet with a cost of $125 a
square foot (Emrath). The expense in wasted energy over the homes
lifetime is immense.

The next step up in construction method is steel framing.

Safety: Steel frames are stronger than wood frames. They withstand
disaster moderately better than wood frames, but not enough to be
called resilient. Flooding can destroy the sheetrock and insulation in
the home. A strong tornado could still reduce the home to debris. Steel
framing may actually be worse in earthquakes due to the tensile
strength of the steel and its inability to flex under pressure. Steel studs
resist initial combustion in a fire, but once the fire has started, the
studs will buckle and collapse.
Health: Although the steel studs themselves will not rot, the attached
drywall will. Steel produces condensation with changes in temperature,
increasing the incidents of rot and mold growth, making steel more
appropriate for interior walls. Although carpenter ants and termites
cannot eat steel, pests will nest in the wall cavities and attics.
Environment: A steel stud conducts ten times more heat and cold
than a standard wood stud. Because of this, steel framing is not
recommended for cold climates (Freed 164). Due to steels
conductivity, more insulation is required with this construction method.
Steel studs are 100% recyclable; however, the production of steel
creates extensive environmental destruction through iron ore mining,

energy used to produce the steel, and burning coal for the intense heat
needed in production, which releases thousands of tons of greenhouse
gas (Freed 89).
Expense: Steel will expand and contract from temperature changes,
producing cracking in the wall covering, requiring repairs. Steel prices
fluctuate with the stock market, but in general, steel will add
approximately 10% to the building budget.

Straw bale, rammed earth, and adobe homes are quite similar in their
strengths and weaknesses.

Safety: These structures have exterior walls of 12 inches to 18 inches

thick, adding strength against wind loads, earthquakes, and
penetration from projectiles. The roof continues to be a weakness, and
they are susceptible to water damage. Dispelling a common myth,
straw bales, like adobe and rammed earth, are incredibly resistant to
fire. The super insulation of these homes will help to protect the
occupants from extreme heat and cold.
Health: With their thick walls covered in natural clay, these homes are
said to breathe. They are quiet homes, effectively insulating the
occupants from noise of the outside world. Pests will not nest in the
walls of adobe or rammed earth, and have been shown to avoid the
tightly packed bales in straw bale construction as long as the straw
stays tight and dry.
Environment: The thick, super-insulated walls have two to three times
the insulation value of stick-frame construction, drastically reducing
energy usage for heating and cooling. Using natural, local mud and
lime plasters helps the environment, yet wood studs remain needed for
the roof and interior walls.
Expense: Straw is nearly free or can be found at very low cost;
however, construction is time-consuming, so paid labor can increase
costs significantly.

I would like to mention here the unusual construction methods of cob,

cordwood, and Earthships. Hippie houses are handmade and tend to be
built by, as some would call them, environmental radicals. Cob homes are
made of sand, clay, and long strands of straw. This mud mixture is formed
into 1-2 feet thick walls that can curve into fantastical, fairytale patterns.
Cordwood walls are made by stacking short logs of wood held together by a
cob mixture.
Earthships are made by stacking used tires in an excavated trench. The
home is surrounded on three sides by tires filled with dirt and backed by
several feet of earth for insulation. The front of the home is faced toward the
sun with an appropriately sized overhang for passive solar energy. The roof is

framed flat, although angled for drainage, out of wood or steel, most having
a living roof of grass or edible plants. These construction methods, however
interesting, are not feasible for mass production.
Close to meeting the definition of sustainable housing are SIPs (structurally
insulated panels) and ICFs (insulated concrete forms). SIPs are made by
sandwiching polystyrene expandable foam between two pieces of oriented
strand board (scraps of wood glued together) that serve as the wood
framing, sheathing, and wall insulation all in one panel. ICFs consist of a
hollow block of recycled Styrofoam held together with plastic or metal
webbing. The blocks are stacked onsite then filled with concrete.

Safety: SIPs fit together like puzzle pieces, increasing the buildings
strength. ICFs are even stronger because the forms are fitted into place
then filled with concrete. The framed roofs of either method, however,
remain a weakness in high winds. Flooding will do greater damage to
SIPs with their wood-like panels than it will to ICFs. ICFs have a large
thermal mass, increasing the comfort to inhabitants in extreme heat or
cold. In earthquakes, ICFs perform better than the previously discussed
construction methods. As far as fire is concerned, the extruded
polystyrene in SIPs is highly flammable once the OSB has burned
Health: SIPs can suffer from water damage and are susceptible to
mold and rot, but less so than stick-frame construction. The OSB in
SIPs can be soaked in toxic formaldehyde. Because the foam is
exposed in ICFs, pests can infest the walls and will burrow into the
foam to nest.
Environment: The pieces fit together tightly, making the homes quiet
and much more energy efficient, up to 50% more according to Eric
Freed (202). The flipside of being nearly airtight is the need for a
ventilation system. Properly used, the system will increase indoor air
quality. These wall systems are resource efficient since SIP foam is
made of 98% air while ICFs use recycled Styrofoam.
Expense: These homes go up faster than traditional homes, therefore
saving labor costs, and they can be designed and precut to avoid the
waste of materials at the job site. These factors save money, but
adding in the expensive materials and a specialized contractor, SIPs
average 5% to 10% more than stick framing; ICFs, 10% or more,
depending on the cost of concrete.

Although the last two methods come close to meeting all the requirements of
sustainability and resiliency, they do not quite satisfy the full needs of safety,
health, and affordability. One construction method, however, does meet all
these requirements and more: the Monolithic Dome.

The Monolithic Dome, a thin-shell, concrete structure, is more than a

construction method; it is a paradigm shift in the way people view shelter.
Buckminster Fuller once said, Homes should be thought of as service
equipment, not as monuments (Baldwin 16). These domes are indeed
meant for service, but in a way, they are also monuments to human
ingenuity and creativity.
David South, creator of the Monolithic Dome process, was inspired by a 1956
presentation on geodesic domes given by Buckminster Fuller. Since that day,
he has striven to perfect a construction method that remains at the forefront
of sustainable architecture. The construction process below is quoted from
the Monolithic website.
The Monolithic Dome starts as a concrete ring foundation, reinforced with
steel rebar. Vertical steel bars embedded in the ring later attach to the steel
reinforcing of the dome itself. An Airform fabricated to the proper shape
and size is placed on the ring base. Using blower fans, it is inflated, and the
Airform creates the shape of the structure to be completed. The fans run
throughout construction of the dome. Polyurethane foam is applied to the
interior surface of the Airform. Entrance into the air-structure is made
through a double door airlock which keeps the air-pressure inside at a
constant level. Approximately three inches of foam is applied. The foam is
also the base for attaching the steel reinforcing rebar. Steel reinforcing rebar
is attached to the foam using a specially engineered layout of hoop
(horizontal) and vertical steel rebar. Shotcretea special spray mix of
concreteis applied to the interior surface of the dome. The steel rebar is
embedded in the concrete and when about three inches of shotcrete is
applied, the Monolithic Dome is finished. The blower fans are shut off after
the concrete is set. Concrete or stucco, applied to the exterior of the dome,
increases its durability (Monolithic).
How does the monolithic dome, with its radical construction method and
alien-looking shape, compare to stick-frame construction?

Safety: The concrete-reinforced, double-curve surface of a dome is

extremely strong and aerodynamic. Consequently, Monolithic Domes
meet FEMA standards for providing near-absolute protection from
disasters, having a proven ability to survive hurricanes, floods, fire,
tornadoes, earthquakes, and even gunfire (South). Due to their
superior insulation, airtight envelope, and large thermal mass;
monolithic domes provide comfort indoors when extreme temperatures
rage outdoors.
Health: The concrete shell that becomes the outer wall of a Monolithic
Dome is not hollow, so pests cannot nest within the walls. Accordingly,
if the home weathers a flood, when the flood waters recede, the closed
surface can be cleaned and becomes as good as new without fear of

rot or mold harbored within hollow wall cavities. The monolithic home
is extremely airtight, requiring a ventilation system, and as with ICF
construction, the system will increase indoor air quality if installed and
used properly.
Environment: Monolithic Domes save 50%-75% more energy
than stick-frame homes and easily meet the energy saving
criteria as detailed by LEED. The continuous wall of the dome
insulates the interior from exterior noise. The urethane foam used in
Monolithic Domes is environmentally about the same as the Styrofoam
just twice as insulating (South).
Expense: When considering a construction method, energy savings
and minimal maintenance are important factors. Monolithic Domes
have an R-value above 60. (See graph on R-value comparisons.) As far
as maintenance, the windows and doors may need replacement and
the interior will need paint and cleaning, David South states, We
design the domes to last for 500 years (South).

Domes save construction costs in two ways: by reducing material waste at

the site and by being built indoors since the inflated Airform prevents
weather delays. The construction cost of a dome is comparable to that of a
stick frame yet with benefits outperforming all other construction methods.
Monolithic Dome owners have saved a great deal on their insurance rates
due to the buildings durability.
The most frequently voiced complaint against Monolithic Domes is that they
are ugly, yet Architect Frederick Crandall, who designs domes and lives in
one, professes that homeowners need not sacrifice design or elegance when
building the pragmatic and intelligent Monolithic Dome (2). David South
believes that domes have a beauty people will grow to appreciate because
Monolithic Domes are the greenest buildings on the planet. There will be a
time when the square building is the oddity (South).
In conclusion, Monolithic domes excel in every facet of sustainable
architecture: they protect the owners, they are healthy, they are
environmentally friendly, and they are affordable. They are the epitome of
durability. Each year, thousands of lives and billions of dollars would be
saved if all new homes built, particularly those rebuilt after a disaster, were
mandated to be Monolithic Domes; to do otherwise is foolhardy. Choosing to
build an antiquated stick-frame home today is like forgoing a BMW to take a
wagon to work.
Works Cited

Baldwin, J. Bucky Works: Buckminster Fullers Ideas for Today. New

York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996.

Bales, Richard F. Did the Cow Do It? The Chicago Fire. 2004. 31 May
2010 <http://www.thechicagofire.com/index.php>
Cox, Mike. Texas Disasters: True Stories of Tragedy and Survival.
Guilford: Morris Book Publishing, 2006.
Crandall, Frederick L. Design Ideas for the Monolithic Concrete Home.
Mesa: Crandall Design Group, 2005.
De Villiers, Marq. The End: Natural Disasters, Manmade Catastrophes,
and the Future of Human Survival. New York: Thomas Dunne Books,
Emrath, Paul. Breaking Down House Price and Construction Costs.
National Association of Home Builders. 2010. 30 May 2010
Freed, Eric Corey. Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies.
Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, 2008.
Hagan, Susannah. Taking Shape: A new Contract between Architecture
and Nature. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2001.
Haiti Earthquake Information. Embassy of Haiti. 30 May 2010
Harris, Nancy, ed. Great Disasters: Tornadoes. Farmington Hills:
Greenhaven Press, 2003.
Hurricane History. Hurricane Preparedness. National Hurricane
Center. 29 May 2010
Monolithic Dome. Monolithic. 28 May 2010
Roaf, Sue, David Crichton, and Fergus Nicol. Adapting Buildings and
Cities for Climate Change: A 21st Century Survival Guide. Oxford:
Architectural Press, 2005.
South, David B. Personal interview. 04 June 2010.
Top Ten Natural Disasters. FEMA. 2009. 30 May 2010
Tornado Science, Facts and History. Live Science. 29 May 2010
Wasowski, Andy. Building Inside Natures Envelope: How New
Construction and Land Preservation Can Work Together. Oxford:
University Press, 2000.

Monolithic Domes
An interesting alternative building construction method is that of the Monolithic
Dome. This is a rather futuristic-shaped building that basically consists of a concretereinforced dome. The dome itself can take many forms, connect to other domes,
include multiple floors, etc. Websters defines monolithic as something large and
powerful that acts as a single, unified force. This is accomplished in this construction
method by the continuous form of concrete that defines the shape of the dome
structure. It is a building technique with much inherent strength that also has very
significant energy efficiency properties. Sprayed-in place polyurethane foam is quite
often used in the process, especially in climates such as New England. FOAM-TECH
has been involved as the foam applicator on monolithic dome projects.
The following is a very brief, general overview of the construction sequence:
A design is determined. This is essential for knowing the size and strength of the
typical concrete poured foundation and for fabricating the "airform" that must be
custom made for each building. The airform is a balloon-like form that is inflated and
defines the buildings ultimate shape.

1. The airform is then attached to the foundation and inflated. It

remains inflated to the very end of the construction process.
2. Polyurethane foam is sprayed in an approximately 3 to 4 inch

3. Reinforced steel bars (rebar) are installed in a mesh formation

and follow the shape of the dome that has been formed by the
4. Shotcrete (spray concrete) is sprayed over the rebar and when
it cures the airform is deflated and removed from the outside
and the monolithic structure is intact. The building is finished
with a layer of shotcrete applied to the exterior
Some of the advantages of this particular kind of construction are as follows:
1. Superior energy efficiency due to extremely low air infiltration
and the insulation performance available from spayed-in-place
polyurethane foam.
2. The heat sink capability of the structure. Warm air from the
inside is absorbed by the concrete wall system and radiates
evenly through the interior.
3. Superior fire proofing due to the inherent abilities of masonry
structures. These dwellings typically enjoy low fire insurance


compiled by Dee Finney


Dome homes are energy efficient buildings. Except for below-theearth buildings, dome homes have the least exterior outside area of
any design. Thus they loose less heat in the winter and stay cooler
in the summer. Standardized dome home kits and installers are easy
to find in most places in the US. Some dome manufacturers
guarantee resistance to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes!
We are guessing that this building is approximately 70 feet in
diameter. We were unable to get the exact dimensions from the
designer or the builder.

Extreme environmental forces compel us to incorporate extreme building

solutions. Domes resist a variety of assaults by Mother Nature. The dome
structure is impervious to tornadoes, landslides, avalanches, earthquakes, fires,
snow and ice storms. Even the tsunami of 2004 has spawned an avid interest in
utilizing more domes as the destroyed areas are rebuilt.
When repetitive hurricanes struck their home, Mark and Valerie Sigler
responded by building a monolithic dome structure. Studies at Idaho State
University determined the Dome of a Home will withstand 500 + mile an hour
winds. Its curved shape and massive weight resist storm surge damage. These
qualities combined with an absence of a roof to be compromised makes the dome
extremely hurricane resistant.

PHOTOS: http://www.domeofahome.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=559

PHOTOS: http://www.domeofahome.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=3368

PRODUCTS USED IN HOME: http://www.domeofahome.com/gallery2/main.php?


OTHER DOMES: http://www.domeofahome.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=14910

By planting the domes into the mountainside, they become immune to Mother
Nature's attacks. The shape is strong and not vulnerable to the weight of
avalanches, landslides, or snow and ice build up. The strength of the dome shape
also makes it impervious to earthquakes. With the appropriate Hepa-filter
system and fire resistant coating, a domes occupants could likely survive a
raging forest fire. Dragon Speed Design Groups goal is to create beautiful,
functional structures that embrace their environment and its challenges. The
creation of enduring architecture springs from passion and curiosity. We create
homes that are light-filled, proportionate, and durably crafted. The designs are
guided by the character, texture, and rhythms of the surrounding landscape. Our
balanced interiors offer calming sanctuaries from the rigors of everyday life
while honoring our clients' individual possessions. Truly exceptional homes are
the result of consistent communication, dedication, and integrity.
The long-term mission of the Dragon Speed Design Group is to establish a
proven model of compatibility between human settlement and the conservation
of natural resources and landscape.


Valerie 850.723.5107 information@dragonspeeddesigngroup.com

The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including

the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today
are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most
common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.
One acre comprises 4,840 square yards or 43,560 square feet[1]. While all modern
variants of the acre contain 4,840 square yards, there are alternative definitions
of a yard, so the exact size of an acre depends on which yard it is based on.

Originally, an acre was understood as a selion of land sized at one furlong (660 ft)
long and one chain (66 ft) wide; this may have also been understood as an
approximation of the amount of land an ox could plough in one day.
A squareenclosing one acre is approximately 208 feet and 9 inches (63.6 metres)
on a side. But as a unit of measure an acre has no prescribed shape; any
perimeter enclosing 43,560 square feet is an acre in size.
The acre is often used to express areas of land. In the metric system,
the hectare is commonly used for the same purpose. An acre is approximately
40% of a hectare.
One acre is 90.75 percent of a 53.33-yard-wide American football field. The full
field, including the end zones, covers approximately 1.32 acres (0.53 ha). It may
also be remembered as 44,000 square feet, less 1%; or as the product of 66 x 660.

Dome in Sedona area

I was greeted warmly and an even friendlier conversation was begun. I explained that
I had seen the house while driving by and wanted to take a closer look. The friendly
owner then invited me inside to explain more about it.

The invitation was accepted and a very interesting story followed about low building
costs, the romance of living off grid and a low energy consumption. Towards the
sunny side, the south, there was a large window of which a low standing winter sun is
capable of shining through, but not a high summer sun. This way the dome house
barely required heating during the winter and in summertime, the air conditioning is
barely needed. I was astounded by the simplicity of this technique and its results.

"One can live anywhere and incorporate this holistic and beneficial system for living and
honoring the earth. Friends and visitors have come for all over the world to see and
experience my futuristic way of living. the masonry dome's superior strength offers a
balance and blending of today's life style and future integrity.
Dome shaped structures focus life energy into their occupants, thereby positively
influencing their lives. Recognizing the fact that not all humans are square shaped,
Masonry Domes specializes in building domes as a home alternative, typically on land

suited to alternative living. Masonry Domes specializes in wind and solar powered
structures, eliminating the need to hook into the power grid.
Mason currently lives in an earth friendly solar and wind powered, dome home he built
in the Bear Mountain development, Sedona, Arizona.

Click here To E Mail Mason Phone: 928-300-7352 Address: 320 Bear

Mountain Rd. Sedona, AZ 86336

CHURCHES http://www.monolithic.com/topics/churches

This is a monestery for http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Maitreya_Sangha_Monastery/

This group is for the co-ordination and sharing of fundraising activity for
H.H. Buddha Maitreya's Monastery Project.
The Church of Shambhala Vajradhara Maitreya Sangha Monastery is a
sacred site for H.H. Buddha Maitreya to Bless the Earth and Heal the
Nations both in this and future lifetimes.
The layout is a central pyramid surrounded by six domes in the sacred
geometry of the Buddha Maitreya Shambhala Star as found in all temples,
churches, stupas and holy sites.
The design is built to last a thousand years and will incorporate solar,
wind, geothermal, EV's, aquaponics, hydroponics, and Life Extension
Please visit our fundraising page for further information:

Desert Earthdome in Tucson, AZ


The Climatron greenhouse at Missouri Botanical Gardens,

built during 1960, inspired the domes in the science fiction movie Silent
The Climatron, named for its climate-control technology, stands 70 feet
high and 175 feet in diameter. It encompasses a volume of 1.3 million
cubic feet, and a ground surface of about 24,000 square feet (more than
half an acre). The form of the building was chosen to fit the specific
demands of a greenhouse. The Climatron has no interior support and no
columns from floor to ceiling, allowing more light and space for plants.
Instead, the weight of the dome is carried to the ground on five piers
around the perimeter of the circle. The interlocking triangle design helps to
distribute weight throughout the dome, allowing it to be lightweight but
strong. The original outer structure was made of lightweight aluminum,
which resists corrosion, lined by a plastic Plexiglas "skin" suspended
below the aluminum framework.

I am interested in living in a circular or dome shaped home. I like the idea of not living in a
box. I researched the concept and found that there were companies that constructed
geodesic and dome homes. The problem came when trying to figure out if a city or county
would permit the building of a non-traditional home.
Depending where you live in the United States, it could be an uphill fight. Even if you could
prove that the home was built to withstand hurricane, fire, or earthquake conditions, it
could be denied a permit. If the structure was not in the building codes book or there was
no one on staff capable of evaluating the viability, it wasn't going to be built.

by Paolo Solen

If I somehow made it past code enforcement bureaucrats then there would be the
neighbors. You can't forget about the NIMBYs, - not in my back yard, city or county people
who want to maintain the area as they currently know it. NIMBYs do have the right to
speak up about anything that could affect the value in their homes.
Home owners certainly should have a say as to the look of their environment or to maintain
a stylistic cultural heritage. Yet there are times when NIMBYs can be as dogmatic as a
political bureaucrat; no change unless it is in my direct vested interest to do so.
Environmentally speaking, holding on to traditional building techniques can be dangerous.
No, I'm not talking about climate change.
I'm talking about building square and rectangular wood homes in areas know for fires. Or
building a home on stilts next to the ocean is not such a good idea. Not to say that you can't
build a home near a coastline but the needs of the environment should probably take more
precedence than design considerations.
Yet we continue to re-build the same old boxes. It is very easy to find video of people
vowing to rebuild their homes exactly as they were before the tremblers, tornados and
storms of the century. Do we really need to make the same mistakes over and over again?

BEAUTIFUL DOME - VIDEO - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/videos/worlds-greenesthomes-the-dome-home.html

The Montreal Biosphre, formerly the American Pavilion of Expo 67,
by R. Buckminster Fuller, on le Sainte-Hlne, Montreal, Canada
What Is Sustainable Architecture?
According to the Living with Nature web site:
We define sustainable architecture (often referred to as "green" architecture) as buildings
that incorporate materials and practices that, at a minimum, have lower impact on the
environment than conventional materials and practices.
Sand, Sun and Architecture for Humanity


Carina at CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities blog gave me a glimpse into why the
buildings fell as the did in Haiti:
Much of the built environment was lacking structurally sound components. Buildings
with too much sand in the concrete mix were the norm. Reinforcement beams were
As a person who lives in earthquake country, I understand about retrofitting, reenforcement and being aware of a building's composition. You really pay attention
when the freeway near you shows a crack or two more than you think necessary. I
dont want to imagine a place where human lives were traded for short term financial
advantage. Sadly, I dont have to, that is the reality.

Carina's focus of her post was on building upon the solar energy potential of Haiti and
transitioning from petroleum usages when possible. There is an opportunity to build
according to the needs of the island and the environment.
Carinas post also introduced me to Architecture for Humanity.
I do not want to make light of the enormous reconstruction that will have to occur in
Haiti. Given a choice, a square roof will do much better than no roof at all. There are
also governmental pressures and predatory opportunists to contend within the mist of
that situation.
Still, my heart leans toward the dreamers that create. Maybe we can put some of the
questions off to the side and be willing to see a different path. Not a quick fix but a
plan that respects the environment, the people and the vision.
Im ready. How about you?

Spaceship Earth at Epcot, Walt Disney World, a geodesic sphere

Other Readings about Architecture, Design and Sustainability

Anne Thorpe of Design Activism writes about how design can be used to move folks
closer to reduced consumption and re-visioning use.
Marjanne Pearson at Next Moon blog deals with design ideas as it pertains to
architects, engineers and marketing concerns.
Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On


Geodesic dome

A geodesic dome is a spherical or partial-spherical shell structure or lattice

shell based on a network of great circles (geodesics) lying on the surface of a sphere.
The geodesics intersect to form triangular elements that have local triangular rigidity
and also distribute the stress across the entire structure. When completed to form a

complete sphere, it is known as a geodesic sphere. The term "dome" refers to an

enclosed structure and should not be confused with non-enclosed geodesic structures
such as geodesic climbers found on playgrounds.
Typically the design of a geodesic dome begins with an icosahedron inscribed in a
sphere, tiling each triangular face with smaller triangles, then projecting the vertices
of each tile to the sphere. The endpoints of the links of the completed sphere would
then be the projected endpoints on the sphere's surface. If this is done exactly, each of
the edges of the sub-triangles is a slightly different length, so it would require a very
large number of links of different sizes. To minimize the number of different sizes of
links, various simplifications are made. The result is a compromise consisting of a
pattern of triangles with their vertices lying approximately on the surface of the
sphere. The edges of the triangles form approximate geodesic paths over the surface
of the dome that distribute its weight.
Geodesic designs can be used to form any curved, enclosed space. Oddly-shaped
designs would require calculating for and custom building of each individual strut,
vertex or panelresulting in potentially expensive construction. Because of the
expense and complexity of design and fabrication of any geodesic dome, builders
have tended to standardize using a few basic designs.


[edit]Related patterns

Similar non-geodesic structures may be based upon the pattern of edges and vertices
of certain platonic solids, or upon various expansions of these called Johnson solids.
Such structures may be composed of struts of uniform length while having faces other
than triangles such as pentagons or squares, or these faces may be subdivided by struts
of other than the basic length. Plans and licenses for such structures derived from
licenses of the Fuller patents were produced during the 1970s by Zomeworks (now a
manufacturer of solar trackers). Both geodesic and non-geodesic structures can be
derived similarly from the archimedean solids and catalan solids.
The building of strong stable structures out of patterns of reinforcing triangles is most
commonly seen in tent design. It has been applied in the abstract in other industrial
design, but even in management science and deliberative structures as a conceptual
metaphor, especially in the work of Stafford Beer, whose transmigration method is
based so specifically on dome design that only fixed numbers of people can take part
in the process at each deliberation stage.



The first dome that could be called "geodesic" in every respect was designed just
after World War I by Walther Bauersfeld,[1] chief engineer of the Carl Zeiss optical
company, for a planetarium to house his new planetarium projector. The dome was
patented, constructed by the firm of Dykerhoff and Wydmann on the roof of the Zeiss
plant in Jena, Germany, and opened to the public in July 1926.[2] Some 30 years
later, R. Buckminster Fuller named the dome "geodesic" from field experiments with
artist Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain College in 1948 and 1949. Snelson and
Fuller worked together in developing what they termed "tensegrity," an engineering
principle of continuous tension and discontinuous compression that allowed domes to
deploy a lightweight lattice of interlocking icosahedrons that could be skinned with a
protective cover. Although Fuller was not the original inventor, he developed the
intrinsic mathematics of the dome, thereby allowing popularization of the idea for
which he received a U.S. patent in 1954. [3]
The geodesic dome appealed to Fuller because it was extremely strong for its weight,
its "omnitriangulated" surface provided an inherently stable structure, and because a
sphere encloses the greatest volume for the least surface area. Fuller hoped that the
geodesic dome would help address the postwar housing crisis. This was consistent
with his prior hopes for both versions of the Dymaxion House.

However, from a practical perspective, geodesic constructions have some

disadvantages. They have a very large number of edges in comparison with more
conventional structures which have just a few large flat surfaces. Each of the edges
must be prevented from leaking, which can be quite challenging for a geodesic
structure. Also, spaces enclosed within curved boundaries tend to be less usable than
spaces enclosed within flat boundaries. (Since it would be impractical to produce
sofas with every possible curved shape, they are normally constructed along straight
lines, and so leave wasted space when placed in a curved space.)
The dome was successfully adopted for specialized industrial use, such as the
1958 Union Tank Car Company dome near Baton Rouge, Louisiana and specialty

buildings like the Kaiser Aluminum domes (constructed in numerous locations across
the US, e.g.,Virginia Beach, VA), auditoriums, weather observatories, and storage
facilities. The dome was soon breaking records for covered surface, enclosed volume,
and construction speed. According to a WAFB-TV of Baton Rouge news report on
November 27, 2007, the Union Tank Car Company Dome has been demolished.
Leveraging the geodesic dome's stability, the US Air Force experimented
with helicopter-deliverable units.
The dome was introduced to a wider audience as a pavilion for the 1964 World's
Fair in New York City. This dome is now used as an aviary by the Queens Zoo in
Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Another dome is from Expo 67 the Montreal, Canada World's Fair as part of the
American Pavilion. The structure's covering later burned, but the structure itself still
stands and, under the name Biosphre, currently houses an interpretive museum about
the Saint Lawrence River.
During the 1970s, the Cinesphere dome was built at the Ontario Place amusement
park in Toronto, Canada. During 1975, a dome was constructed at the South Pole,
where its resistance to snow and wind loads is important.
Residential geodesic domes have been less successful than those used for working
and/or entertainment, largely because of their complexity and consequent greater
construction costs. Fuller himself lived in a geodesic dome in Carbondale, Illinois, at
the corner of Forest and Cherry [1]. Residential domes have not become as popular as
Fuller hoped. He thought of residential domes as air-deliverable products
manufactured by an aerospace-like industry. Fuller's dome home still exists, and a
group called RBF Dome NFP is attempting to restore the dome and have it registered
as a National Historic Landmark.

[edit]Chord factors

A geodesic sphere and its dual.

The mathematical object "chord" of the "geodesic sphere" corresponds to the

structural "strut" of the physical "geodesic dome". The general definition of a chord is
a (straight) line segment joining two points on a curve. For simple geodesic domes we
recognize the associated curve to be the surface of a sphere. Here is how chords of
geodesic spheres are generated. We first choose an underlying polyhedron with equal
triangle faces. The regular icosahedron is most popular. The sphere we use is
specifically the "circumscribing sphere" that contains the points (vertices) of the
underlying polyhedron. The desired frequency of the subsequent geodesic sphere or
dome is the number of parts or segments into which a side (edge) of the underlying
polyhedral triangle is subdivided. The frequency has historically been denoted by the
Greek letter "" (nu). By connecting like points along the subdivided sides we produce
a natural triangular grid of segments inside each underlying triangle face. Each
segment of the grid is then projected as a "chord" onto the surface of the
circumscribing sphere. The technical definition of a chord factor is the ratio of the
chord length to the radius of the circumscribing sphere. It is therefore convenient to
think of the circumscribing sphere as scaled to radius = 1 in which "chord factors" are
the same as "chord lengths" (decimal numbers less than one).
For geodesic spheres a well-known formula for calculating any "chord factor" is
chord factor = 2 Sin ( / 2) where is the corresponding angle of arc for the given
chord, that is, the "central angle" spanned by the chord with respect to the center of
the circumscribing sphere. Determining the central angle usually requires some nontrivial spherical geometry.
In Geodesic Math and How to Use It Hugh Kenner writes, "Tables of chord factors,
containing as they do the essential design information for spherical systems, were for
many years guarded like military secrets. As late as 1966, some 3 icosa figures
from Popular Science Monthly were all anyone outside the circle of Fuller licensees
had to go on." (page 57, 1976 edition). Other tables became available with publication
of Lloyd Kahn's Domebook 1 (1970) and Domebook 2 (1971). With advent of
personal computers, the mathematics became more solvable. Rick
Bono's Dome software outputs a script that can be used with the POV-ray raytrace to
produce 3D pictures of domes. Domes based on the frameworks of different
underlying polyhedra along with various methods for subdividing them will produce
quite different results. Mathematical formulas developed by Peter W. Messer for
calculating chord factors and dihedral angles for the general geodesic sphere appear in

the Appendix of the 1999 Dover edition of Spherical Models by Magnus J.


Inside the Eden Project tropicalbiome

[edit]Methods of construction

Construction details of a permanently installed tent-type geodesic dome by Buckminster



Wooden domes have a hole drilled in the width of a strut. A stainless steel band locks
the strut's hole to a steel pipe. With this method, the struts may be cut to the exact
length needed. Triangles of exterior plywood are then nailed to the struts. The dome is

wrapped from the bottom to the top with several stapled layers of tar paper, in order to
shed water, and finished with shingles. This type of dome is often called a hub-andstrut dome because of the use of steel hubs to tie the struts together.
Panelized domes are constructed of separately-framed timbers covered in plywood.
The three members comprising the triangular frame are often cut at compound angles
in order to provide for a flat fitting of the various triangles. Holes are drilled through
the members at precise locations and steel bolts then connect the triangles to form the
dome. These members are often 2x4's or 2x6's, which allow for more insulation to fit
within the triangle. The panelized technique allows the builder to attach the plywood
skin to the triangles while safely working on the ground or in a comfortable shop out
of the weather. This method does not require expensive steel hubs.
Temporary greenhouse domes have been constructed by stapling plastic sheeting onto
a dome constructed from one-inch square beams. The result is warm, movable by
hand in sizes less than 20 feet, and cheap. It should be staked to the ground to prevent
it being moved by wind.
Steel-framework domes can be easily constructed of electrical conduit. One flattens
the end of a strut and drills bolt holes at the needed length. A single bolt secures a
vertex of struts. The nuts are usually set with removable locking compound, or if the
dome is portable, have a castle nut with a cotter pin. This is the standard way to
construct domes for jungle-gyms.
Concrete and foam plastic domes generally start with a steel framework dome,
wrapped with chicken wire and wire screen for reinforcement. The chicken wire and
screen is tied to the framework with wire ties. A coat of material is then sprayed or
molded onto the frame. Tests should be performed with small squares to achieve the
correct consistency of concrete or plastic. Generally, several coats are necessary on
the inside and outside. The last step is to saturate concrete or polyester domes with a
thin layer of epoxy compound to shed water.
Some concrete domes have been constructed from prefabricated, prestressed, steelreinforced concrete panels that can be bolted into place. The bolts are within raised
receptacles covered with little concrete caps to shed water. The triangles overlap to
shed water. The triangles in this method can be molded in forms patterned in sand
with wooden patterns, but the concrete triangles are usually so heavy that they must

be placed with a crane. This construction is well-suited to domes because there is no

place for water to pool on the concrete and leak through. The metal fasteners, joints
and internal steel frames remain dry, preventing frost and corrosion damage. The
concrete resists sun and weathering. Some form of internal flashing or caulking must
be placed over the joints to prevent drafts. The 1963 Cinerama Dome was built
from precast concrete hexagons and pentagons.
In 1986 a patent for a dome construction technique involving EPS triangles laminated
to reinforced concrete on the outside, and wallboard on the inside was awarded to
American Ingenuity of Rockledge Florida. The construction technique allows the
domes to be prefabricated in kit form and erected by a homeowner. This method
makes the seams into the strongest part of the structure, where the seams and
especially the hubs in most wooden-framed domes are the weakest point in the
structure. It also has the advantage of being watertight.
Largest geodesic dome structures

Many geodesic domes built are still in use. According to the Buckminster Fuller
Institute,[4] the world's ten largest geodesic domes are
Fantasy Entertainment Complex: Kyosho Isle, Japan, 710 ft (216
m) [2]

Multi-Purpose Arena: Nagoya, Japan, 614 ft (187 m) [3]

Tacoma Dome: Tacoma, Washington, USA, 530 ft (161.5 m)

Superior Dome: Northern Michigan University. Marquette,
Michigan, USA, 525 ft (160 m)[4]

Walkup Skydome: Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff,

Arizona, USA, 502 ft (153 m) [5]

Round Valley High School Stadium: Springerville-Eagar, AZ,

USA, 440 ft (134 m)

Former Spruce Goose Hangar: Long Beach, California, USA,

415 ft (126 m)

Formosa Plastics Storage Facility: Mai Liao, Taiwan, 402 ft (122


Union Tank Car Maintenance Facility: Baton Rouge, Louisiana,

USA, 384 ft (117) m (Demolished in November 2007.) [6]

Union Lehigh Portland Cement Storage Facility: Union Bridge,

Maryland, USA, 374 ft (114 m)
See also


Concrete dome

Cloud nine (Tensegrity sphere)

Domed city

Fullerenes, molecules which resemble the geodesic dome


Hoberman sphere

Monolithic dome


Silent Running 1972 science fiction film prominently featuring

geodesic domes.

Sindome An online Cyberpunk RPG that takes place in a giant

geodesic dome.

Space frames

Stepan Center

Shell structure




Geodesic tents

Pentakis dodecahedron

Truncated icosahedron
4. Geodesic Domes

Fuller invented the Geodesic Dome in the late 1940s to demonstrate some ideas about
housing and ``energetic-synergetic geometry'' which he had developed during WWII.

This invention built on his two decade old quest to improve the housing of humanity.
It represents a brilliant demonstration of his synergetics principles; and in the right
circumstances it could solve some of the pressing housing problems of today (a
housing crisis which Fuller predicted back in 1927).

4.1 What is a geodesic dome?

[From Robert T. Bowers' paper on Domes last posted to GEODESIC in 1989.]

A geodesic dome is a type of structure shaped like a piece of a sphere or a ball. This
structure is comprised of a complex network of triangles that form a roughly spherical
surface. The more complex the network of triangles, the more closely the dome
approximates the shape of a true sphere [sic].
By using triangles of various sizes, a sphere can be symmetrically divided by thirtyone great circles. A great circle is the largest circle that can be drawn around a sphere,
like the lines of latitude [ED: he means longitude] around the earth, or the equator.
Each of these lines divide the sphere into two halves, hence the term geodesic, which
is from the Latin meaning ``earth dividing.''

[From Mitch Amiano]

The dome is a structure with the highest ratio of enclosed area to external surface area,
and in which all structural members are equal contributors to the whole. There are
many sizes of triangles in a geodesic [ED: dome], depending on the frequency of
subdivision of the underlying spherical polyhedron. The cross section of a geodesic
[ED: dome] approximates a great-circle line.
Do domes really weigh less than their component materials?
[From Pat Salsbury]

Well, the structures weigh less when completed because of the air-mass inside the
dome. When it's heated warmer than the outside air, it has a net lifting effect (like a
hot-air balloon).
This is almost unnoticeable in smaller structures, like houses, but, as with other things
about geodesics, being as they're based upon spheres, the effect increases
geometrically with size. So you'd be able to notice it in a sports stadium, and a sphere
more than a half mile in diameter would be able to float in the air with only a 1 degree
F difference in temperature!
What about underground concrete domes?
[From Randy Burns.]

Underground concrete domes are rather interesting

1) They can use chemical sealing and landscaping to avoid leakage problems
associated with wooden domes.
2) They are extremely strong. Britz [see Dome References for more on Britz] has
obtained extremely low insurance rates on his structures. The insurance company
tested one building by driving a D8 Caterpillar tractor on top of the house!
3) There's little hassle involved in dealing with materials that were really standardized
for use building boxes. The only specialized tools are the forms, everything else can
easily be used off the shelf.

4) They can be quite aesthetic. Britz has shown that you can build developments
where the houses can't really see each other.
5) They are cheap and easy to heat, cheap enough that you can build a much larger
structure than you might using conventional housing and use standard room divider
technology to split the thing up into room.
What are geotangent domes?
[Keyed in by Patrick G. Salsbury.]

The following is quoted from ``Scientific American'' in the September 1989 issue.
(Pages 102-104)
Surpassing the Buck (Geometry decrees a new dome)
``I started with the universe--as an organization of energy systems of which all our
experiences and possible experiences are only local instances. I could have ended up
with a pair of flying slippers.'' -R. Buckminster Fuller
Buckminster Fuller never did design a pair of flying slippers. Yet he became famous
for an invention that seemed almost magical: the geodesic dome, an assemblage of
triangular trusses that grows stronger as it grows larger. Some dispute that Fuller
originated the geodesic dome; in Science a la Mode, physicist and author Tony
Rothman argues that the Carl Zeiss Optical Company built and patented the first
geodesic dome in Germany during the 1920's. Nevertheless, in the wake of Fuller's
1954 patent, thousands of domes sprung up as homes and civic centers--even as caps
on oil-storage tanks. Moreover, in a spirit that Fuller would have heartily applauded,
hundreds of inventors have tinkered with dome designs, looking for improved
versions. Now one has found a way to design a completely different sort of dome.
In May, J. Craig Yacoe, a retired engineer, won patent number 4,825,602 for a
``geotangent dome,'' made up of pentagons and hexagons, that promises to be more
versatile that its geodesic predecessor. Since Fuller's dome is based on a sphere,
cutting it anywhere but precisely along its equator means that the triangles at the
bottom will tilt inward or outward. In contrast, Yacoe's dome, which has a circular
base, follows the curve of an ellipsoid. Builders can consequently pick the dimensions
they need, Yacoe Says. And his design ensures that the polygons at the base of his

dome always meet the ground at right angles, making it easier to build than a geodesic
dome. He hopes these features will prove a winning combination.
Although Fuller predicted that a million domes would be built by the mid-1980's, the
number is closer to 50,000. Domes are nonetheless still going up in surprising places.
A 265-foot-wide geodesic dome is part of a new pavilion at Walt Disney World's
Epcot Center in Florida. A bright blue 360-foot-high dome houses a shopping center
in downtown Ankara, Turkey. Stockholm, Sweden, boasts a 280-foot-high dome
enclosing a new civic center.
Dome design is governed by some basic principles. A sphere can be covered with
precisely 20 equilateral triangles; for a geodesic dome, those triangles are carved into
smaller ones of different sizes. But to cover a sphere or ellipsoid with various sizes of
pentagons and hexagons required another technique, Yacoe says.
Yacoe eventually realized that he could build a dome of polygonal panels guided by
the principle that one point on each side of every panel had to be tangent to (or touch)
an imaginary circumscribed dome. With the assistance of William E. Davis, a retired
mathematician, he set out to describe the problem mathematically.
They began with a ring of at least six congruent pentagons wrapped around the
equator of an imaginary ellipse. The task: find the lengths of the sides and the interior
angles of the polygons that form the next ring.
To do so for an ellipsoidal dome, they imagined inscribing an ellipse inside each
polygon. Each ellipse touched another at one point; at these points, the sides of the
polygons would also be tangent to a circumscribed ellipsoid. But where, precisely,
should the points be located? Yacoe and Davis guessed, then plugged the numbers into
equations that describe ellipses and intersecting planes. Aided by a personal computer,
they methodically tested many guesses until the equations balanced. Using the tangent
points, Yacoe and Davis could then calculate the dimensions and interior angles of the
corresponding polygons and so build the next ring of the dome.
After receiving the patent, Yacoe promptly set up a consulting firm to license his
patents. He says dome-home builders have shown considerable interest, as has Spitz,
Inc., a maker of planetariums located near Yacoe in Chadds Ford, Pa. Yacoe has also

proposed that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration consider a

geotangent structure as part of a space station. -E.C.
What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of Dome Life?
asemon@esu.edu (Alan Semon) writes:
>I was once interested in the idea of living in a geodesic dome home and,
>to the best of my recollection, these are some of the advantages:
>1. Heating and cooling the home become more efficient due to the fact
>that there are fewer (even no) corners where heat may be trapped. The
>overall air flow in a dome is substantially better than in a
>conventionally constructed home (straight walls and such).
...and there is less surface area per square foot of living space = less
heat loss.
>2. Many dome home designs allow the option of using larger lumber for
>the dome. 2x6's or 2x8's instead of the usual 2x4's, although this is
>an option in ANY home, it seems to be more commonly done in dome home
Although for many areas of the US, there is no financial advantage to
using 2x6 construction. A dome with R-14 throughout can outperform a
well insulated conventional house of comparable S/F.
>3. For those solar minded people, the placement of the solar collectors
>on the ``roof'' is less critical due to the curved nature of the top of
>the structure.
>4. The inherent strength of the dome makes it suitable for either
>earth-bermed or even earth covered construction techniques. In the case
>of more common construction techniques, the structural members'
>dimensions usually need to be completely reworked in order to carry the
>extra weight.
>5. Hell, they _LOOK_ pretty neat! This might be a problem in certain
>areas which one of those laws which say that all homes in an area _MUST_
>conform to certain guidelines concerning their architecture (bummer,
>huh? :-)).
[Based in part on a Brewer Eddy post]

The curved walls in a dome require either custom furnishings, 100% prefab design, or
an ``open spaces'' approach. Each of these would be an advantage or disadvantage in
one person's eyes or another's.
Mass producing domes is easy, greatly reduces the cost and could solve many of the
housing shortage problems worldwide (especially emergency housing needs).

How to use solar panels in domes? [Kerri Brochard]

[From Tom Dosemagen]

I have a dome and tried to find solar panels to be installed on the dome. I had no luck
finding such a beast so I installed 320 square feet of panels on the ground close to the
dome and ran all connections under ground into the basement. I live in south central
Wisconsin and my experience with solar is not the greatest. My system works fine, but
in order for the system to work the sun has to shine. That doesn't happen a lot here
until late February or early March. My advice to people in our part of country is to
take the money you were going to spend on solar and invest it. Then take your interest
money and pay for conventional heat. My dome is 44 feet in diameter and with a 90%
efficient furnace and my total heating bill for one season is right around $350.00. My
exterior walls are framed with 2x6's. With thicker dome walls I'm sure that I could
lower my heating costs by quite a bit.
4.2 Dome Math: What you've all been waiting for!!!
Dome Theory
[From Kirby Urner.]

The edges of a geodesic dome are not all the same length. The angstrom
measurements between neighboring carbon atoms in a fullerene are likewise not
Domes come in three Classes (I, II and III). The classification system has to do with
laying an equilateral triangle down on a grid of smaller equilateral triangles, lining up
corners with corners -- either aligning the triangle with the grid (I), turning it 90
degrees to bisect grid triangles (II), or rotating it discretely to have it cut skewly
across the grid (III).
20 of these triangles make an icosahedron which is then placed within a
circumscribing sphere. The vertexes of the triangles' internal points, defined by the
grid pattern, define radii with the circumscribing sphere's center. By pushing each
vertex further out along the segments so defined, until each is made equidistant from
the center, an omnitriangulated geodesic sphere is formed (orthonormal projection I
think cartographers call this). Again, resulting surface edge lengths are not all the

same length. The resulting mesh will always contain 12 sets of 5 triangles organized
into pentagons, the rest into hexagons.
The Class I version of the algorithm above always creates 20F^2 surface facets where
F=1 gives the icosahedron itself. The external point population will be 10F^2+2.
Since points plus facets = edges plus 2 (Euler), you will get 30F^2 edges. F is what
Fuller called the Frequency of the geodesic sphere and, in the Class I case,
corresponds to the number of grid intervals along any one of the 20 triangle edges.
Note: ``buckyballs'' in the sense of ``fullerenes'' are not omnitriangulated (the edges
internal to the 12 pentagons and n hexagons have been removed) and come in
infinitely more varieties than the above algorithm allows. The above algorithm is
limited to generating point groups with icosahedral symmetry -- a minority of the
fullerenes are symmetrical in this way, although C60, the most prevalent, is a
derivative of the Class I structure.
[From Ben Williams]
Andrew Norris writes:
>1/ Given a dodecahedron with the edges of length unity, what is
the radius of the sphere that would enclose this body?
>2/ For the above case, construct each pentagon out of triangles.
What are the angles required so that new center-node of the
pentagon just touches the enclosing sphere?

This is just a 2 frequency (what-is-referred-to-in-Domebook II-as)

triacon geodesic sphere. Funny you should mention that: Back in
June when I first discovered this newsgroup, I got reinterested in my
old hobby of building mathematical models (and R B Fuller as well).
So I went through the laborious process of calculating the strut
lengths to build a 2v triacon sphere (what you just described above)
out of toothpicks. I have it hanging up over my monitor right now. I
wish I could show how I used geometry and such to figure all the
necessary lengths out. What I do is start out with a drawing of a
dodecahedron projected onto a plane -- if it is oriented correctly, you
will get a 2-d figure that you can use to deduce the information you
want from it. (To get this figure, think of a dodecahedron made out
of struts (such as toothpicks) standing on one of its edges on a
sheet of paper out in the sun with the sun directly overhead. The

shadow on the paper will be this figure.) These are the lengths I
E = length of edge of dodecahedron Distance of edge of dodecahedron from center:
Er = ( (3 + sqrt(5))/4 ) * E

1/2 distance between non-adjacent vertices of face of

b = ( (sqrt(5)+1)/4 ) * E

given a face of dodecahedron, distance between vertex and

opposite edge:
h = ( ( sqrt(5 + 2*sqrt(5)) ) / 2 ) * E

distance from center of dodecahedron to one of its vertices (your

question 1):
R = sqrt((9 + 3*sqrt(5))/8) * E

given a face of dodecahedron, distance from its center to an edge:

l = b/h * Er

distance from center of face of dodecahedron to center of

m = Er/h * Er

given face of dodecahedron, distance from center to vertex:

t = h-l

length of one of those struts going from a vertex of dodecahedron

up to point above center of face but on the enclosing sphere:
S = sqrt(t^2 + (R-m)^2)

Now, to derive the angles of one of those triangles whose side lengths I have just
determined, you would need to do this:
A1 = 2 * arcsin ((E/2)/S)

This is the angle of the top corners of the 5 triangles which are arched above one of
the faces of the dodecahedron. My calculator gives me this angle in degrees:
67.66866319 Notice it is slightly less than the 72 degrees it would be if they were flat
on the face of the dodecahedron. Now the other two angles of each of the triangles are
simply derived via:

A2 and A3 = (180 - A1) / 2

I get a value of 56.1656684 degrees for these two angles.

What are the basics of Spherical Trigonometry?
On Sat, 18 Dec 1993 03:11:53 GMT <scimatec5@UOFT02.UTOLEDO.EDU> said:
>Hey all,
A while back I asked about calculating chord factors. I found the
>equation that without which I don't think I could have done it (by the way I
>was successful)-- it's a formula for calculating w/any spherical right
>triangle. The formula is sin a = sin A * sin c.
/ |
c / |b
>I'm sure you're all familiar w/it, but is there any other equation that
>be just as helpful.
This is by Napier's rules. Here is Napier's circle:

where -c means the complement (or 90 degrees - (minus) the

arclength measure). A, B are angles, C is the right angle and a, b, c
are the sides opposite A, B, and C, respectively. There are two rules:
Rule 1:
The sine of any unknown part is equal to the product of the cosines of the two
known opposite parts. Or sin = cos * cos of the OPPOSITE parts.
Rule 2:
The sine of any unknown part is equal to the product of the tangents of its two
known adjacent parts. Or sin = tan * tan of the ADJACENT parts.

Your formula is the same because ``c-c''=90-c and sin(90-c)=cos(c).

Examples: sin(b)=tan(A-c)tan(a) or sin(b)=cos(c-c)cos(B-c).
Chris Fearnley

Tempes Historic Buildings

Steve Mather

This building is part of a trend in banking after World War II to open banks
close to customers and to offer services like drive-up windows. The buildings design
also suggests that the bank is stable, accessible, forward-looking, and Arizona-based
(by using local building materials).
The geodesic panel dome on the bank dates from 1962 and the credited
architects Weaver and Drover. According to Frank Henry, who worked for Weaver
and Drover and who briefly worked on this Valley National Bank building, the idea of
using the geodesic dome came from Valley National Bank. Not only because it was
stylish and futuristic and cool, but because it was an efficient means to build a branch
bank; create a free-span space inside and a distinctive profile outside, visible from the
street. The building is one of a decreasing number of original geodesic domes in the
United States. These last domes stand as the tangible legacy of Buckminster Fuller,
whose geodesic dome was, and is, a completely revolutionary construction technique.
According to a June 20, 1962 VNB publicity release: The golden dome on
the Valley National Banks new Tempe Office rises three-quarters of an inch during
heat of the day, contracting again in the cooling night hours. Luminous ceiling above
the 2600 square foot lobby is hung with thousands of wafer-thin aluminum leaves
each turned to a precise angle. Special lighting protection for the metal-roof structure
was included in specifications by architects Weaver & Drover Despite its graceful,
light appearance, Valley Banks dome weighs several tons and possesses impressive
structural strength. In tests, geodesic designs have supported more than 100 pounds
per square foot and withstood hurricane winds of 125 miles per hour.
In erecting the dome, more than 100 pre-shaped panels were fastened together with
special bolts in a series of ever-widening circles around a central tower. The roof was
lifted slightly as each new ring of panels was added. When the entire dome was
assembled, it was lowered into place onto permanent supports and the tower removed.
A critical factor in the domes erection was accuracy in planning and placing the
bearing points, which hold full weight of the 90-foot span. These and concrete arches
between were cast in place with custom-built forms Self-supporting feature of
geodesic construction eliminated need for support columns or weight-bearing walls
inside the bank. All walls in the building are curtain walls except for the vault,
which is virtually a separate building in itself. Constructed blockhouse fashion, the
vault has 12-inch thick reinforced concrete walls, floor and ceiling. Between support

piers, eyebrow-shaped arches curve to a height of 13 feet. Spaces here are enclosed
with native stone, porcelain and quarter-inch thick glare-reducing glass.
The building was razed to make room for expansion of the ASU campus. They
promised to save the dome, but the many other architectural features were destroyed.


Inside the bank at Tempe, AZ

TOUGH HOUSE: A 'dome home' in Pensacola, Fla. can withstand up to 300 mph hurricane winds. (Photo:Monolithic)