Doors and windows are cut out before the shotcrete is applied, and the dome has a concrete slab floor.
The domes can have plain exteriors if they are to be used to bulk storage, or windows and doors if they are used as schools/shelters or for other applications. They can be built with more than one level.
ABC Domes, which has 30 full-time employees, has built seven domes, including four business-continuity buildings in Lakeland, a school in Hammond, Okla., and a command-center dome in Sealy, Texas. The company is also developing several other dome projects.
In Lakeland, 2-20 Records Management, which provides storage of documents and data protection, and a Florida bank use ABC Domes for secure storage.
Last year, ABC Domes formed a strategic alliance with Dome Technology, which has built about 500 domes in the U.S. and overseas, and ES2 Engineering System Solutions.
Domes cost several hundred thousand dollars and upward for the basic shell. Equipping the buildings for gymnasiums, conference centers and other uses raises the cost.
While a few Florida companies are already using shared ABC Domes in Lakeland to protect emergency equipment and data files against disasters, these structures have not yet been built in Miami-Dade or Broward counties. But the company has launched a marketing program for the region.
“Hurricane shutters and panels are the most popular types of storm protection in South Florida, and offer the best protection against wind and flying objects,” said David Gonzalez, president and owner of Serious Installations in Pembroke Pines, which sells, installs and services shutters.
“But because of the economy, a lot of people delay buying until a hurricane is coming, and then it’s too late. And after a storm passes, interest goes down,” added Gonzalez, who has six employees.
There is a wide variety of aluminum and steel shutters (accordion, roll-down, hinged panels, Bahama) at different price ranges, and Gonzalez warns that buyers should make sure their supplier measures the shutters precisely to avoid jams/improper fits and installs them correctly and damage-free. (Sometimes factories make shutters that are not square, have bent sections or scratches, but installers put them in anyway, hoping clients will not notice.) “A lot of our work is maintenance and repairs,” he said.
Another South Florida company, Hurricane Fabric in Delray Beach, makes AstroGuard, a high-strength ballistic nylon with a resin coating that can be used to cover windows and doors on homes and businesses.
“We’ve done independent lab tests and AstroGuard can withstand projectile impacts far greater than the standard set for Miami-Dade County,” said Yehuda Bar-David, general manger of Hurricane Fabric. “The fabric has a burst strength of over 1,500 pounds and can withstand wind, water and flying debris beyond a Category 5 hurricane.”
To protect glass windows and doors from projectiles that push against the hurricane fabric during a storm, the company installs aluminum ribs between the AstroGuard and the glass.
The key to AstroGuard is the clip used to attach the fabric to buildings. This sturdy clip allows for secure attachment under stress without fabric tear, and blocks penetration by wind and rain, the company said.
The translucent, UV-resistant fabric, sold and installed directly by Hurricane Fabric, is also sold by Home Depot and Lowe’s (under the Bertha brand). It has a 10-year warranty and costs about $10 per square foot installed by Home Depot, Bar-David said. The company sells the fabric directly for $5.45 per square foot, including hardware.