Domes are not less expensive than some conventionally-constructed buildings.

This was the finding of two architects engaged by the Brookings-Harbor School District board to make an apples to apples comparison of conventional and dome construction.

Architects Dick Bryant and Harriet Cherry of WBGS reported during a public meeting Monday that the initial cost of building domes, and the later cost of maintenance are probably more expensive.

The dome question was brought to the school board by a bond committee headed by Bill Ferry. It suggested the use of domes for buildings in the plan that do not house classrooms. The committee, which deliberated for a year, favored the domes because it was told they would not be as costly as conventionally constructed buildings.

Cost has been a major factor as the district prepares for a third request to the voters for approval of a building program. The two previous requests were rejected by wide margins. The building committee sought to create a program of maximum cost benefit to the taxpayers and the district.

In addition to the domes, the committee also recommended two programs involving conventional buildings.

Dr. Marian Boye, a member of the bond committee, Tuesday said it appears the architects made an error in their analysis of the domes. She said she brought it to the attention of Dr. Paul Prevenas, district superintendent, for clarification. He was to contact the architects, she said.

As part of their comparison, the architects used the Payson School dome gymnasium in Arizona, and compared it to a hypothetical, rectangular building. They said the rectangular building was less expensive.

But, Dr. Boye said the cost was higher because the architects said the Payson gym was built on a supporting stem wall around the base. This is more expensive than building the dome directly on the ground. Actually, Dr. Boye said, the building is not supported by a stem wall. She said it is a facade that gives the impression of a supporting wall. Also, she said, the architects said the building was 60 feet high, when actually it is 50 feet high.

The Payson gym is larger than the hypothetical building used by the architects for the comparison. The domes includes a lot more rooms, and naturally would cost more to construct than a smaller building, she said.

The height of the dome is one of the issues questioned by the architects. They said the city zoning prohibits buildings higher than 40 feet. Going any higher, like 60 feet, would exceed the city limit and require a variance, the architects said.

The architects also questioned the later cost of maintenance of the building. They said the material used for the roof of a dome could be easily damaged by vandals. And, they questioned the acoustics in the domes, saying another school district had installed false ceilings to control the noise. With the additional ceiling, this negated any savings that would be realized with the additional construction.

The architects reported their findings by compiling two charts that gave points to address different types of construction. It rated an open web steel truss roof and pre-cast concrete walls above the concrete dome.

There were no actual dollar estimates provided by the architects.

The school board is expected Monday to decide during its meeting whether to use dome or some other type of construction. The architects then are are expected to come up with three building programs based on cost. There will be high, medium and low.

The architects hinted that the cost of the buildings in the proposed building program will be more than what the committee had hoped.

The school board must act by August if it wants the proposal to appear on the November ballot. The school board members attended Mondays meeting in the Azalea Middle School library.