Building a Dome for Celebrations and Shelter

Central City Public Schools needed a new gym.

Built in 1994, the previous gym for the district that serves the central Nebraska town of the same name required several updates, including more adequate seating.

Today, the new Bison Activity Dome is a dual-purpose facility that seats more than 2,000 and includes panoramic seating, locker rooms, and restrooms. It serves as a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shelter to protect students and residents during emergency events. In addition to its role as a shelter, the dome has positioned Central City to host district wrestling and basketball tournaments, and other community events.

The tornado-resilient, all-concrete domed building is the first of its kind in Nebraska and received the 2022 Award of Outstanding Achievement for the use of concrete by the Nebraska Chapter of the American Concrete Institute.

We were honored to provide structural and civil engineering services for the facility. Our work included preparing the site demolition plan for the existing site infrastructure to be removed; a site grading and drainage plan; site paving plans; a water service plan for a new connection from the water main to the dome; and a sanitary service plan for a new connection from the sanitary main to the dome. 

The facility’s safe room has been designed to protect the 2,865 people – nearly the entire population of Central City - who live within a half-mile radius or five-minute walk from the facility. As required by FEMA, the structure is designed to withstand winds of up to 250 mph.

The dome structure is 176.5 feet in diameter by 24 feet tall atop a 22-foot stem wall constructed of insulated concrete forms. The building’s overall height is 46 feet. While the dome itself was designed by another consultant, we reviewed dome design and completed all structural tasks inside the dome. Our structural engineering professionals reviewed drawings and calculations to verify accurate design specifications.

Andric Hofrichter
Project Engineer
(308) 398-2984
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