If dome-shaped buildings that can withstand all kinds of destructive forces are the wave of the future, Oklahoma is leading the nation.
Two dome-topped school buildings under construction in Dibble, Okla., are expected to increase energy efficiency, provide more weather safety and ease overcrowding in the McClain County school district, retired school Superintendent Bill Bentley said.
The buildings, projected for completion in February, are the latest in Oklahoma to adopt plans to incorporate monolithic domes, which are well-insulated, steel-reinforced concrete structures.
In April 2007, voters approved a $3.49 million bond issue for construction of a new gymnasium and middle school, which will be connected by a breezeway.
“We do not have the shelter space we need,” Bentley said. “We take the students to an early childhood education facility, and it is very inconvenient.”
The Monolithic Dome Institute of Italy, Texas, was subcontracted to build the domes; JWS Construction of Mustang was contracted to work on the other parts of the buildings.
Oklahoma has eight schools with monolithic domes, more than any other state in the nation, according to the Monolithic Dome Institute Web site.
“These are the buildings of the future,” said David South, president of the Monolithic Dome Institute. “They can stand through wind, rain, tornadoes, fire, anything.”
Bentley said energy efficiency also was a deciding factor in choosing the domes. For about eight months, school board members researched alternative building plans and found that the monolithic dome plan is the most efficient.
The district expects the bills for heating and cooling will be about half what they would be for a traditional building and separate storm shelter.
“One superintendent said the school saved $62,000 in one year alone,” South said. “That adds up quick, and those savings have been used for things such as raises for teachers.”
The gymnasium will seat about 600 people, and accommodate 3,000 for shelter. It will be used for junior high and youth sports, as well as many other activities.
Dibble has been plagued with overcrowding. Seven hundred students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grades, and middle school students currently attend classes in part of the high school.
After the buildings are completed, the high school will regain its space.
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