Title

Dome to Bring “Little Piece of Houston” to UND

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2011

Abstract

Dome to Bring “Little Piece of Houston” to UND

By Joe King, Cub Reporter

Winter weather will soon be a thing of the past with the announcement by UND’s Aspirational Projects Center that they intend to begin construction of a dome designed to enclose the UND quad.

No longer just for the viewing of aquatic creatures, acrylic domes present great potential for weather-challenged climates like those found in North Dakota.

“For years UND has considered various methods of controlling the weather in and around campus, including cloud-seeding, community fire pits, and even asking local wizards to cast friendly spells,” says Dolores Umbridge, Associate Professor of Magic. “The concept of a dome we could heat or cool seemed the next logical step … after magic.”

The dome would reach more than 200 feet high at its apex, and would function as a kind of “greenhouse for the quadrangle,” says Jess Hokum, UND’s Director of Aspirational Projects. “Basically, we’re bringing a little piece of Houston to Grand Forks.”

During colder months, the temperature inside the dome would be kept at a balmy 78 degrees with a constant 40 percent chance of rain. In the summer, entering the dome would be like walking into a crisp spring day.

Futuristic domes have been in the works for years, but were often derailed by skeptics. In the 1960s, three different engineering professors proposed steel structures that would enclose the quad. Each plan was eventually scrapped due to construction costs and the weight of the steel in the soft soils of Red River Valley.

According to Hokum, the weight problem has been solved with the new design. “I think we solved the problem by using lighter weight materials, but I’m no engineer.”

Douglas Douglas, an engineer, says erecting an acrylic dome weighing nearly 6 million pounds is a very bad idea. “As an engineer, I’ve looked over the basic plan I can safely say I think that dome is going start sinking like something that sinks very fast.”

Many point to the utility of a warm space to gather at the center of campus for academic and social events.

Roger Kevin, newly-elected chief intern and activities director, explains that not only will this bring a new meaning to the term “Christmas in July,” it will also be an economic boon for the state. “While all students and North Dakota residents can play in the dome for free, out-of-state guests will pay a fee, easily bringing tens of dollars in new revenue.”

Plans include an official public vote through Facebook Likes to determine if it will be a waterslide, a lawn bowling pitch or a human chess board (played with real humans) that will be the pièce de résistance.

The community is invited to the Aspirational Projects Center’s next planning meeting on April 31st at 7 PM in the Lundegard Hall Auditorium.

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