After eloping in the Garden of the Gods of Manitou Springs, Colorado on Valentine’s Day, the Siglers left Kansas City and journeyed to Pensacola Beach, Florida to begin their life together. That beginning was initiated by gutting their newly purchased home at 1005 Ariola Dr. The home had been neglected for years and needed much TLC and remodeling to become livable. Pouring their hearts and souls into the project for several months, they could finally relax.
Or could they? As soon as the remodeling was completed, Hurricane Alberto struck. Enough damage was done that the remodeling project just completed needed significant repairs. While making the repairs, Mark kept thinking, “There has to be a better way to build structures to withstand this environment. “
Then, in 1995, after Hurricanes Erin and Opal severely damaged their home, Mark began researching building techniques that would alleviate such extensive devastation. What he discovered was the monolithic structure. Withstanding 300+ mph winds, storm surges, termites, rising energy costs, fires, and even earthquakes, air form concrete domes are indestructible. Mark knew that it would be a true sanctuary, a place to come home to…even after a hurricane.
Because of the frequent and repetitive hurricane damage, the Siglers have been out of their residence for over 14 months. Having a home to be hospitable after a hurricane would be a tremendous relief and comfort. “Knowing that the structure one calls ‘home’ can also be a sanctuary, brings a sense of peace and comfort,” asserts Valerie Sigler. Although the home is used as a vacation rental in the summer, it is the Siglers primary residence. The Siglers began offering their home to visitors to offset the escalating insurance costs that the hurricanes initiated.
In March 2001, Mark and Valerie Sigler received a letter from the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, offering the opportunity to submit a grant application for funds to alleviate further disaster mitigation. Up to the challenge of jumping through the governmental red tape hoops, the Siglers decided to apply for a solution that would definitively terminate further hurricane damage.
October brought the good news. The Siglers had been awarded a FEMA grant to build the hurricane-proof home they so desperately needed. In December, the visionary Santa Rosa Island Authority approved the conceptual design for the dome. The “team” was called with the good news to proceed with the planning and design phase. The Siglers desired a home that would embrace and comfort those who crossed its threshold. Available for summer rentals, the house needed to welcome its vacationers and visitors with open arms. Of course, there is the Wow! Factor. But, more importantly, the Siglers also wanted a relaxing Hmmm factor.
The combined military experience of the two architects influenced their design concepts. Bob Bissett was a pilot in the US Air Force, serving two tours of duty in Viet Nam; while Jonathan Zimmerman served in the Navy. Because of their understanding of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, they have the ability to design unique buildings. After all, when have you ever seen a square airplane or boat?
San Francisco area architect, Jonathan Zimmerman, conceptually created the unique home. Taking into account the pristine white beaches, the dunes, the emerald waters, and the peaceful nature of the environment, Mr. Zimmerman designed a home that would blend with and compliment its surroundings. Designed to be environmentally friendly with its low impact nature, the Siglers felt that this type structure could thrive in the harsh beach environment.
Unfortunately, during the summer of 2005, Jonathan passed away. The world lost a creative soul that day. He hated it when we called him the Frank Lloyd Wright of domes, but he was. He had an ability to make the domes seem less mechanical and more organic, taking into consideration the environment in which he was building. I feel him in the Dome from time to time. He is always welcome as long as he doesn’t scare the guests with ghostly tricks J On the day we were to attend his memorial, Hurricane Dennis struck Pensacola Beach. We stayed in town to secure the house for Dennis’ imminent arrival. I invited all of my friends and family who had passed over to come have a hurricane party and to protect the Dome with their love and energy. I think it worked, we had no damage to the house itself.
The ever-innovative architect, Bob Bissett, has been invaluable with his vast knowledge of the latest technologies. With his adept skill of educating the other members of the team, Mr. Bissett insures that this home will have the best quality products while offering the most energy savings. Mr. Bissett is a genius at converting conceptual theories into measured realities quickly.
July 18, 2006
It’s been five years since we began in earnest the Dome of a Home project. I must say that I would have never anticipated the journeys we have taken. In hindsight, I think that is a good thing because I would have been overwhelmed by the joy and the sorrow we have experienced along this path. Would we do it all again? Most of the time, I would say, “Absolutely!” We have met so many wonderful people, been a part of many exciting projects, and learned so very much about ourselves. When we look back upon our lives, we know we have accomplished something that made a positive difference. For that, we will be eternally grateful.