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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • FEMA provided funding for Fowler's tornado-resistant domed multipurpose facility

  • USD 225 in Fowler completed construction of a steel-reinforced, concrete monolithic dome multipurpose school building that will double as a community disaster shelter.


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  •      USD 225 in Fowler completed construction of a steel-reinforced, concrete monolithic dome multipurpose school building that will double as a community disaster shelter.
        The building was funded by a $345,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because monolithic domes meet the agency’s standards for near-absolute protection from tornadoes.
        Fowler voters approved a $1.94 million bond issue in November 2008 to fund construction of the monolithic dome structure that houses a computer/technology lab, a new band/vocal room, a new gymnasium, two locker rooms and a commons/concession area. But school officials delayed the building start while they waited for word on the FEMA grant application.
        “Our school was hit by a tornado five years ago, and we all know what happened in Greensburg, Chapman and Manhattan recently, as well as Hoisington several years ago. This would give Fowler a place for everyone to go during an emergency," said Sam Seybold, superintendent of the Fowler school district. “Before now, we didn’t have a community shelter.”
        Seybold said he and members of the Fowler school board became interested in monolithic dome construction after learning about the many advantages it offers over traditional construction. The possibility of a FEMA grant was just an added incentive, he said.
        “As we researched the different construction models, keeping in mind that we wanted to hold down the cost to district patrons, the monolithic construction made sense to us, especially with the 30 percent savings on construction costs, the 30 to 50 percent savings on energy use, the designation of a community emergency shelter, and the life span of the facility,” Seybold said.
        The domes’ energy efficiency is due in part to the concrete’s thermal mass, which keeps the temperatures inside the buildings stable. The domes also typically feature high-performing windows and doors. Another plus is their sustainability. Because of their shape, monolithic domes require the smallest surface area and employ the fewest materials to enclose space.
        They also have a life span measured in centuries.