NEWSPAPER COVERAGE ON AMERICAN INGENUITY CONCRETE DOMES
In the past such newspapers as Florida Today, Detroit News, New York Times, Florida Keys Sunday, Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen Times), International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong have run articles on American Ingenuity Domes.
The Dome Gains Weight and Settles Down
BRUCE NELKIN decided in the 10th grade that he would someday live in a geodesic dome, after seeing a picture of one in a science book. “It looked like something out of ‘Star Wars,’ ” Mr. Nelkin said. “I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and I said to myself, ‘When I grow up I’m going to build one of those.’ ”
In 2003 he finally did. Now Mr. Nelkin, 45, an Internet marketer, and his wife, Deana, live in a house made of two adjoining domes in Pleasantville, N.Y.
The pale gray hemispheres stand out like twin spaceships on a tree-lined street where all the other houses have pitched roofs. But inside, the house looks unexpectedly terrestrial, with overstuffed couches, hardwood floors and rustic fireplaces much like those of its neighbors.
The Nelkins are among a growing group of Americans who are building dream homes in the shape of geodesic domes, once a symbol of youthful rebellion but now one of aspiration for aging baby boomers.
Hemispheres are sprouting up among the mock Tudors and colonials of upscale neighborhoods across the country, from Veneta, Ore., where a company called Oregon Dome is building a development of 2,000-square-foot spec domes on suburban lots for around $200,000 each. Like tofu and yoga, the dome has evolved from countercultural funkiness to middle-class respectability.
First popularized in the 1950s by the designer and inventor Buckminster Fuller, who died in 1983, geodesic domes have long been appreciated by environmentalists for their energy efficiency and the way they provide the maximum amount of space with a minimum of material. In the 1960s and ’70s, hippies built them in the wilderness, painting them in psychedelic patchworks; their rounded contours were seen as a retort to all things square or right-angled in Western society.
The domes of the Flower Power era were rarely more than a standard 24 feet in diameter and cost less than $1,000 to build, according to Jay Baldwin, an early dome builder and dweller. But many new domes are sprawling mansions of more than 10,000 square feet, built on budgets of a million dollars or more.
“The domes have gotten bigger and more expensive as people’s incomes expanded,” said Dennis Johnson, who founded Natural Spaces Domes, a dome building company in North Branch, Minn., in 1978. In the past decade his clients have quadrupled in number, to about 200 a year.
Like most modern homeowners, dome owners want plenty of space.
“They want another bedroom,” said Robert Singer, the president of Timberline Geodesics, a dome manufacturer in Berkeley, Calif. “They want the home office, they want the entertainment room, they want the extra space in the basement, they want the large custom kitchen.”
Two years ago, Mr. Singer said, his factory needed to run only seven months a year to meet the demand. Now it operates full time to produce more than 50 houses annually, and he still can’t fill all the orders.
Many people are also requesting surprisingly conventional architectural accessories: dormer windows, cedar shingles, carriage lamps, gambrel-roofed entryways.
They want to stand out from the pack, it seems, but not too much; they want to reclaim their youth, but aren’t willing to sacrifice the comforts of middle age. (Mr. Nelkin put a cupola on top of his dome, because, he said, it made the place look “more homey” and less like the kind of basic unembellished dome “you might see in an oil refinery.”)
Companies that sell kits for large-scale domes offer custom options like cupolas, balconies, rectangular additions for extra rooms and even matching minidomes for pets. But early dome builders like Mr. Baldwin see the new customized domes as bastardizations of Fuller’s concept.
“I call them elephant droppings,” he said. “Fuller’s idea was that of a machine-made object, a pure geometry.”
Most dome dwellers are not so picky.
Tina Gerard and Wes Dehnke, who own a 45-foot-diameter dome in River Falls, Wis., love its shape and the triangular framing inside. But when they were planning it they thought the outside looked too naked.
“The castle turrets give the dome a whole other dimension,” Ms. Gerard said.
The Keys Sunday Newspaper: Article By STEVE SANOSKI
Imagine a home designed so efficiently it saves upwards of 70 percent on monthly utility bills, and built with materials strong enough to withstand a direct hit from a major hurricane.
What would such a house look like? Sort of like a half of an egg. But more specifically, a home with those capabilities would have to be a geodesic dome.
“It’s the most simplified way to build a house that we know of,” said Glenda Busick, coowner of dome home manufacturer American Ingenuity. “It’s a very logical option for people living on the coast.”
Rockledge, Florida-based American Ingenuity has been manufacturing dome home kits since 1976. Since then they’ve shipped their kits to 46 states – including Alaska and Hawaii – as well the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and even Israel.
The dome’s shape gets the credit for the large savings on energy expenses, said Busick. Dome houses have about half the total surface area as a conventional home, meaning there’s less space for hot or cold air to escape.
“Nationwide, that’s the number one reason people buy our home kits,” she said. “It’s common for our customers to save 50 to 70 percent on their heating and cooling costs due to the thick insulated panels we use and the natural shape of the dome.”
The number one reason Floridians purchase American Ingenuity dome home kits is the structure’s incredible resistance to hurricanes, said Busick.
“We have customers in Miami who survived a direct hit from (category 5) Hurricane Andrew,” she said. “We guarantee all of our homes against 225 mph winds and F4 tornadoes.”
A geodesic dome is created out of a network of struts Shape offers energy savings, hurricane resistance. Dome homes make comeback arranged on great circles (geodesics) on the surface of a sphere. The geodesics intersect to form triangular elements that have great rigidity but they also distribute the stress across the entire structure.
According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, it is the only man-made structure that gets proportionally stronger as it increases in size. When completed to form a full sphere, it is known as a geodesic sphere.
Though not invented by him, the dome was popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller who named the dome “geodesic.”
The standard dome home design will resist 225 mph winds, F4 Tornados and 50-pound snow loads. American Ingenuity dome houses get their strength from two sources: the aerodynamic design of the dome and the patented wall panel design used on all kit homes.
The sandwich panel is polystyrene insulation at the core, covered by steel mesh and reinforced with concrete seams.
The prefabricated panel was developed and patented by American Ingenuity’s founder, Michael Busick, in 1984.
However, that price is only for the dome shell kit, and does not include windows, doors or any furnishings, such as flooring, kitchen cabinets, lighting and bathroom fixtures.
Additional costs can also be associated with assembling the house kit, which about half the American Ingenuity customers do themselves. “A lot of people see how inexpensive the kit is and assume the whole house when completed will be inexpensive,” Busick said. “That’s not true. A finished dome will cost about the same as a conventional home, but what you end up with is much more than a conventional home.”
The popularity of geodesic dome houses is on the rise in Florida and throughout the county, said Busick.
“Five years ago we might sell 25 dome homes a year,” she said. “Now we’re selling 60 to 70 kits a year, and it just continues to grow.”
The Florida Keys is home to one dome currently, located in Key Largo, and it happens to be up for sale. The asking price for the 40’, two-story, three bedroom dome home on oceanfront property is just below $2.2 million.
For more information about American Ingenuity dome home kits, including full listing details on the Key Largo home for sale, visit www.aidomes.com.