Debating a Dome for Vail
These large “headline” letters on the front page of the Monday, August 18, Vail Daily were a very pleasant surprise to say the least! Then, inside on page 2 a full page two picture article was fantastic!
I want to thank Matt Zalaznick and the Vail Daily for all of this.
My hope is that “the powers that be” will be open-minded enough to examine these domes and learn what all the benefits really are.
Monolithic domes have been around for over 2,000 years. The perfect example is the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. That these buildings last centuries is obvious.
Often it is asked, “Why would someone want to build a dome?” That question is significant because it often implies a deeper issue. The dome shape is so unusual that there must be some other reason, aside from appearance, for wanting a dome?
Energy savings, safety, durability and cost are some of the reasons for building a dome. There are people who, believe it or not, even prefer the dome shape. And often after hearing the many advantages of the domes, people’s attitudes change about the shape.
What if we could build a building or home that is 70 percent (or more) energy efficient, will last for centuries, is capable of surviving major disasters, and looks and costs exactly the same as every other building or house? Would we succeed? Would anyone believe us? I doubt it!
Improvements in technology often require drastic changes in our perspective. The horseless carriage, airplane and computer completely revolutionized society, but not transparently. Each required new thinking, compromises, understanding, education, and – most importantly – acceptance.
When each invention was introduced, they were ridiculed, misunderstood, hyped and even lied about. It took years before they were accepted by the public and became part of everyday life.
Domes are no less of a breakthrough.
Monolithic domes will succeed not in spite of its shape, but because of it.
Because it is a dome, people are confronted with something completely different. Because it is a dome, they must ask questions about it. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be dismissed. There must be something compelling about these structures for someone to buy one.
Right now we are seeing a change. That most popular question – “Why would someone want a dome?” – is diminishing. We are being generally accepted. Because it’s a dome, it is happening!
Domes are fireproof, earthquake proof, hurricane and tornado proof, termite proof, even avalanche proof. They have been buried underground and can withstand 2,000 pounds per square foot of pressure with room to spare. A 300 mile per hour wind is the max ever measured from a tornado. Domes have a safety factor of four times above that. Winds cannot get a purchase on domes – the wind just goes around them. Hurricane ocean storm surges cause the most damage. Domes are built with 18-foot high arches that let the surge run in one side and out the other, leaving the dome undamaged. The living area is on top of these arches.
Dome maintenance is considerably less than conventional buildings. Fire insurance premiums run about one-eighth of other buildings. Heating and cooling can run 50 percent to 75 percent less. Add up these costs and a dome will pay for itself in 15 to 20 years.
What I’m trying to get across is that a dome will save the town of Vail (any town or person) a tremendous amount of money in the long run. If that is the people’s tax money or from taxes collected from “wherever,” why not build a dome? The money is out of your pocket no matter how you look at it!
Murray V. Heminger Jr.