Aesthetics, please: A few of our best-looking commercial domes

Not all domes are hulking monoliths. Sometimes commercial domes are chosen specifically for their aesthetics, and here are a few of those projects.

LaHaye Student Center expansion

LaHaye Student Center Expansion, Liberty University

Lynchberg, Virginia, USA

Project completion: May 2014

Liberty University wanted structures with domed roofs reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Concrete shells 30 feet and 61 feet in diameter were built atop steel-structured walls. These shells provided the roof element, and using the shotcrete method, they were more economical than steel or cast-in-place concrete, which would have been too heavy to use. University officials also chose the thin shell because of its insulation value.

The continuous concrete shell protects the interior from external precipitation and provides necessary strength that complements the dome’s double curvature, resulting in a self-supporting structure free of interior supports.

Shotcrete also leant cost efficiency to this project. Because of the shotcrete process, Dome Technology built this architectural dome at a significantly lower cost than steel roofing.


USA Lumberton School

Lumberton Performing Arts Center

Lumberton, Texas, USA

Project completion: 2013

The Lumberton Independent School District Performing Arts Center in Lumberton, Texas, acts as the primary performing arts facility for school events and is also a go-to site for community functions.

Built by Dome Technology, the 1,500-seat dome-shaped building stands 56 feet high and 179 feet in diameter. A connected foyer softens the look of the structure.

But the center’s principal role is serving as command center during natural disasters. From June 2015 to June 2016, Lumberton experienced 173 weather-related events requiring emergency personnel to utilize the center.

“We’re on the Gulf Coast, so we are a hurricane-prone area. Our center becomes the command center (for the) few personnel that must stay until the eleventh hour,” said district coordinator of special programs and communication Gretchen Scoggins. “That’s its primary purpose; we just get to use it the other 99 percent of the time for events.”

The center was finished with the safe-shelter function in mind, and “everything is ready to roll—literally—out of here,” Scoggins said. Removable auditorium seats are carted to storage facilities across the parking lot, freeing up room for the emergency-management team staying during storms. During tornadoes, however, the center is the designated shelter-in-place for students at the adjacent high school and intermediate school.

The Lumberton project is one of Dome Technology’s finest architectural domes, said project manager Daren Wheeler. “The campus that this dome is on is a really sharp-looking campus. This is a big dome, and generally speaking, when you put a dome of this size on a property, it usually dominates it. That’s not the case here; it really complements the campus,” he said.


Pao by Paul Qui

Pao by Paul Qui

Faena Hotel restaurant

Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Project completion: 2014

An elliptical dome was built adjacent to the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Dome Technology built the dome, which was then finished by the customer as the Pao by Paul Qui restaurant.


Spaceport American fire station

Spaceport Fire Station

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, USA

Project completion: 2008

When Spaceport America needed a fire station for its campus in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, a modern aesthetic with a nod to the desert environment was a must.

Dome Technology was contracted to build the fire station with its organic design that captures the sense of space exploration and complements the landscape. For improved function and a futuristic feel, the dome was built with large openings, including a 30-foot cantilevered “eyebrow” shell within the dome structure. The exterior was finished with sand-colored tiles to blend with the surroundings.

Spaceport American fire station

“The design of the fire station fits well with the design of the Spaceport and the overall design environment which was trying to be achieved,” said T.J. Allard, who oversees protective services at Spaceport America for Fiore Industries, a company contracted to provide protective services for the campus, including all firefighting services.