This article covers Ai History – American Ingenuity History.
American Ingenuity Office Domes (34′ on left – 45′ dome on right -3,700 sq.ft.) Built in 1993.
American Ingenuity’s factory is housed in three domes. 48′ dome on right built in 1983, 45′ dome in middle built in 1986 and 60′ dome on the left built in 1991. The 48′ dome was the first Ai dome built with the prefabricated panel.
American Ingenuity 60′ Factory Dome built in 1991.
To view the American Ingenuity History, view History.
American Ingenuity began in 1974 as an electronics manufacturing firm located in Miami, Florida. Its products included a slow acting lamp dimmer and solid state voltage regulator for motorcycles.
The company moved to Melbourne, Florida in 1976. After two years of design research, the first American Ingenuity dome was built in 1976 to house Busick’s electronics business. Founder Michael Busick employed the talents of the Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, University engineering students and an architectural professor to design the very first expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) and concrete geodesic dome. This first dome became the office/model of American Ingenuity and by American Ingenuity’s current standards was a primitive design. The dome was constructed by erecting the polystyrene (E.P.S.) panels, stretching steel mesh over the E.P.S., spraying concrete over the entire exterior and then plastering the inside of the E.P.S. This 50′ dome had no riser walls or preformed entryways or dormers.
Busick’s dome was located next to US Highway 1 in Melbourne. People would stop in and ask him to build them domes like his. Thus started his dome business. In the early years, American Ingenuity was happy to sell one building kit a year. The earliest states where kits were shipped were North Carolina and Texas; however, Florida remained the primary location for building. With each one built, Busick gained valuable information to provide improvements for the next.
In 1980, American Ingenuity was incorporated in the state of Florida.
By 1983, a major improvement in the building method had been developed by Busick which provided for the prefabrication of building panels. In 1983 American Ingenuity manufactured and built its first dome utilizing the prefabricated sandwich panel. After this concept had been tested and implemented, Busick applied for a U.S. patent. This improved building system was labeled “Generation II”. It resulted in a dome design which reduced the time and cost of construction as well as improved the quality of the finished dome.
Also in 1983 Michael Busick married Glenda who besides assisting in the day to day operations of the company, played a major roll in the financial backing for the research and development of the American Ingenuity dome concept. She handled the purchasing and selling of integrated memory chips to Office Equipment companies through out the United States.
Construction for American Ingenuity’s second model home was begun in 1984 using the prefabricated panels. This time sheet rock was adhered to the inside of the polystyrene. But during the assembly of the building kit, the sheet rock naturally got wet. Because the sheet rock would crumble and mold, American Ingenuity decided to not ship the prefabricated panels with sheet rock. So when the dome kit was assembled, the client would either adhere sheet rock or trowel plaster or stucco to the polystyrene insulation….a labor intensive project.
The energy rating for this second model home, as determined by the Florida Model Energy Code, was the lowest known with a rating of -14. Also Busick designed the first second floor door dormer which opened onto the top of a standard entryway to produce a second floor balcony on a geodesic dome. Another first of its kind.
The Model Dome in Melbourne Florida was completed in 1985 and a few months later entered in the 1986 Aurora Awards competition. In May of 1986, Ai was notified that the American Ingenuity Model had won the award for the Most Energy Efficient Residences as judged by the Southeast Builders Conference, a division of the National Home Builders Association. In August of that same year, the model also won the Grand Award for all energy efficient categories…beating out a passive solar home designed for one of Florida’s utility companies, Florida Power and Light.
In 1986 a United States patent was granted for the prefabricated polystyrene and concrete dome panels.
After receiving the patent and winning of the Aurora Awards, articles were written about the American Ingenuity Dome in such newspapers as Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel, in the magazines Progressive Builder, Florida Trend and was a feature cover story in the March 1987 issue of Popular Science
Additions to our 1983 48′ factory dome were a 45′ dome in 1986 and a 60′ dome in 1991.
Ai broke ground for its new dome offices which consisted of a 45′ dome connected to a 34′ dome in 1993. The office domes won the Southeast Builders Conference 1994 Aurora Merit Award for Energy Efficiency for a Commercial Project.
In 1998, Michael Busick designed the 22′ and 27′ garage domes using 2 frequency geometry. This geometry differs from American Ingenuity’s residential domes in that the 22′ and 27′ domes utilize fewer but larger panels. By having larger panels A.I. can create a wider opening that is needed for a garage door. Previously a 34’ dome was needed to pull two cars in side by side. Now Ais clients can have a two-car garage in a 27’ dome, which is more cost effective. The 22’ dome provides an economical one car garage using 3½” E.P.S. insulation. Either of these can be connected to another dome or built independently from the house.
Generally American Ingenuity’s clients are owner builders but around 2000, Ai had individuals inquire about wanting a working consultant to supervise their or their contractor’s laborers and get the dome shell kit assembled. American Ingenuity can now connect clients with the consultant who will travel to their job site. The consultant supervises the assembly of the dome kit which makes the assembly go faster and reduces costs.
In 2003, the staff at American Ingenuity researched materials to cover the interior of the polystyrene. Ai’s staff settled on Georgia Pacific’s 1/4″ Dens-Deck roof board which is adhered to the E.P.S. with cement and perlite mixture. The Dens-Deck employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is silicon treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes. Dens-Deck roof board is a patented nonstructural glass mat-faced, noncombustible, water-resistant, treated gypsum core panel. It is water resistant, so if your kit gets rained on during construction, the wallboard will not be damaged. The gypsum once dried out, will return to its original state. During non-freezing temperatures, the dome kit can be stored on your site 2-3 months waiting on your foundation installation. Due to code changes in November 2013, the wallboard has been upgraded to Georgia Pacific’s 1/2″ DensArmor Plus gypsum wallboard. Same moisture resistant/mold resistant gypsum as Dens-Deck just thicker.
Not only has Ai’s building kits improved, but American Ingenuity’s building plans have progressed from simple hand drawings to detailed computer designed blueprints. American Ingenuity has progressed from a prototype structure to a home that has received a design competition award, three energy awards and numerous articles in national magazines and other media.
Ai’s goal in 1976 was to develop a simplified building kit which when assembled produced an affordable, super-strong, super – energy efficient home. American Ingenuity’s goals now are: 1) to continue that goal; 2) provide prefab home kits for forward thinking home owners who are willing to think outside the box; and 3) offer independent kit assembly specialists to supervise the dome kit assembly.