St. Joseph Catholic Church in Commerce, TX, has completed construction on a unique, tornado-resistant building that will serve as the congregation’s new sanctuary. The new building is a Monolithic Dome, a one-piece, steel-reinforced, super-insulated concrete structure best known for energy efficiency, longevity and the ability to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s criteria for near-absolute protection from natural disasters.
The dome replaces St. Joseph’s aging sanctuary, built in 1955, which seats about 100 people. The new worship space, which measures 88 feet in diameter and approximately 6,000 square feet, can accommodate more than 400 people.
"We are located very close to Texas A & M University-Commerce, and our congregation has grown right along with the student population,’ said Rev. George P. Monaghan. pastor of St. Joseph. "We needed a new facility, and after exploring several other options, we decided that a Monolithic Dome was the best choice for us."
St. Joseph is one of a number of Catholic churches that have opted for the Monolithic Dome method of construction. Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Ferris completed a Monolithic Dome multipurpose facility in 2003, and Bishop Nevins Academy in the Diocese of Venice in Florida built a Monolithic Dome school. Dozens of Protestant churches across the nation have also selected this unusual, construction method.
"Monolithic Domes can be significantly less expensive to build than a traditional structure of the same size," says David B. South, president of the Monolithic Dome Institute in Italy, TX. "They also have the additional benefits of having low utility costs and being forever-type structures. In every case where record have been kept and checked, it can be shown that utility savings over 20 years can pay for the entire facility."
Monolithic Domes are also considered among the greenest of all building alternatives, South said. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, a sustainable building saves energy, water and materials; safeguards the surrounding area; assures the safety and health of their occupants; and is low maintenance. "Clearly, the Monolithic Domes meet these criteria," he added.
Often the buildings also double as community tornado shelters. According to FEMA guidelines, Monolithic Domes qualify for the agency’s highest designation, defined as offering near-absolute protection from natural disasters.
"We’re very excited about all the advantages that this new building will offer us," said Father Monaghan. "It will allow us to serve the students of Texas A & M University –Commerce and the rest of the town population for many years to come."
For more information about St. Joseph Catholic Church in Commerce, visit www.stjoetx.net. To see photos and read more about Monolithic Dome churches across the United States, go to www.monolithic.com.