The balloon is up and we have become structural

With a sigh of relief, we have become structural! The balloon is up, four inches of foam sprayed, over five miles of rebar placed and five inches of concrete sprayed on the interior. Because we are in the midst hurricane season, relying on the fans for inflation left us in a precarious predicament. Storm surges will annihilate generators.balloon_3

The balloon was inflated on April 30, 2002. In those twenty minutes, the beach’s landscape was irrevocably changed. The dome became the new landmark and the subject of much discussion. The island is home to many walkers, bikers, and 1.4 million visitors each year. Streams of people each day come by to inquire and gaze at the balloon.

The most common questions people ask are: is the home being built underneath the balloon; why aren’t they working on the dome, (not realizing that at this stage the work is being done on the interior); how is the balloon removed; and of course, what is the cost. We have conducted numerous tours through the dome to inquisitive passers-by.
EVERYONE we have spoken with has expressed support and excitement for the project. Those who have experienced hurricanes first-hand grasp very quickly the implications and advantages of this structure.

The neighborhood elementary school toured the dome on the last day of school. We were intrigued and encouraged by the thoughtful questions the students asked. One six-year-old boy looked around in awe as he whispered, “When I grow up, I want to have a home like this.” Having the opportunity to share this technology with children was a great joy. Field trips to interesting places leave an balloon_1indelible mark in one’s memory. We know these students will be discussing this adventure with their grandchildren. Mark conducted a demonstration comparing conventional fiberglass insulation to the foam being used in the dome. He dipped each one in a bucket of water to simulate the results that occur when a hurricane douses a home. The soaking, soggy fiberglass insulation elicited a resounding “Yuck!” And the unaffected foam received a “Wow!” in response. Many of the children asked if they could take a piece of the foam home as a souvenir. The crew was very helpful in distributing these keepsakes from the field trip to the impressed students. The collection of pictures and thank you notes we received from the children was a wonderful bonus for us.

The local ABC news affiliate is continuing to do dome updates on Sunday evenings. Mollye Barrows has aired five segments to date. The segments generate extensive hits on the website, and several “I saw you on the news. Great house!” responses. Because our desire has always been to educate and increase exposure of dome technology, we are extremely appreciative of Ms. Barrows and her camera crew. They are very interested in the project and are always ready to film the latest achievements. We are also grateful to our local newspaper, The Islander, for distributing information through their articles.

The website has gone global! We have received visitors from all continents in the world. All very exciting for us as we sit on this spit of an island in Florida.

With over 1.4 million visitors to the beach each year, the dome is in a position to generate a tremendous amount of interest. We have been told by the lballoon_2ocal government to expect a majority of those visiting to make the dome one of their tourist attraction stops.

A unique opportunity awaits future visitors to the sugar white beaches of Pensacola Beach, Florida. VACATIONING IN THE DOME!!! For those who want to experience living in a dome or to vacation in a one-of-a-kind house, the dome will be available for weekly rentals. Visitors can spend a week “living in the round” while they vacation on an island covered in white sand and surrounded by emerald waters.

Our goal is to be ready for the 2002 Christmas and New Year holidays. Anyone interested in renting the dome of a home can contact our me at 850.723.5107.

OPEN SESAME!!! Openings were cut on July 11, 2002, finally allowing passers-by to get a glimpse inside of the structure. Much confusion is exhibited concerning the windows and decks by those stopping to stare at the balloon. We could literally spend twelve hours a day in front of the construction site constantly answering questions. Amazing the amount of curiosity domes create.

We hope by offering scheduled tours and opening the home for weekly rentals to provide a venue for further understanding and acceptance of the incredible advantages of the dome structure.