All in the Family: Expansive Yumadome Makes Room for Everyone

Yumadome Exterior Elevation.

Yumadome, an 11,500-square-foot Monolithic Dome home in Yuma, Arizona, is home to three generations of family. This image was taken before the middle two segments of the large wall of windows were installed.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Happiness and family

The Atrium.

The atrium includes a central eating area and space to relax. Large windows create an open atmosphere and allow a flood of sunshine in.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Comedian George Burns once quipped, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city,” and his audience probably laughed and nodded in agreement. But there’s a unique family of eleven adults in Yuma, Arizona, who—while they might laugh—would not agree. This group, related to one another either biologically, through marriage, or simply through friendship and a shared sense of values, all live at Yumadome.

The ole’ homestead

Yumadome is a giant Monolithic Dome, built as a hemisphere, with three stories, an 84’ diameter, a 39’8" inside height from floor to ceiling, and 11,000 square feet of living space. Its dome shell encompasses eight suites, each with at least one bedroom, a bathroom, a sitting room, a laundry area and closets. In addition to the suites, on its lowest level, Yumadome has roomy, comfortable common areas: a kitchen with two dishwashers, two sinks and two refrigerators; a computer room; a TV room; and an atrium with trees and natural light. Fifty feet from the dome, a metal barn houses a workshop, garage and storage space.

The Bride Wore White.

The swooping, three-story staircase is dressed in white for a wedding reception held at the home. The second and third floors feature private living suites with one or two bedrooms each.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

One dome for four generations

In 1994, Mark Henrikson, one of Yumadome’s planners, spotted Monolithic’s ad in Popular Science and sent for a brochure—that he quickly read and put away. “But three years later,” Mark said, “Mary, my wife, and I were planning on building a house.”

“Then,” Mark continued, “we learned that Dianne and Jim Grider, Mary’s parents, were also planning on building. They wanted Curly Pugh, Dianne’s dad, to move in with them since he was in his 80s and sometimes needed extra time and attention.”

Desert Oasis.

The backyard pool offers an oasis and respite from the heat of Arizona’s Yuma Desert.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A little later, Mark learned that his sister Judy and her husband, Tim Williams, had just sold their house and were planning to build.

That core group was soon joined by Mark’s parents, Marcy and Jack Henrikson, and by the Williams’ two adult daughters, Rozz and Crystal.

At that point, Mark suggested to all the prospective new-home builders that “maybe we ought to approach this a little differently.”

The group decided on a 13-acre parcel of land that they all liked. But they couldn’t decide on individual dwellings or on one all-accommodating home until Mark remembered Monolithic’s brochure. “Surprise, surprise—after three years, I found it!” he said. “That’s a sign right there that something must be going on. So we sent for more information and began looking at doing one big house.”

View from the Third Floor.

Stone tile flooring provides an earthy-feel and generates a striking contrast to the white staircase and wicker furniture.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Mark and Tim attend a Workshop while the group designs

In April 1998, Mark and Tim participated in one of Monolithic’s Workshops to study and experience the basics of Monolithic Dome construction. Meanwhile, the rest of the family got busy designing their ideal group home. Mark said, “We asked everybody to sit down with sketch or graph paper and draw the suite of their dreams. We told them to ‘Just draw what you want.’ No limits at this point. And everybody pretty much started doing that. Eventually, we had to tell one of my nieces to think smaller and the other niece to think bigger, but after several months, it all worked out.” With the help of a computer program, they came up with what Mark calls, “a relatively set floor plan, but we still had plenty of changes.”

Once the changes were resolved, the Yumadomers hired contractor Chris Hengl to do most of the labor, with Mark and Tim doing the less technical tasks and everyone else helping with whatever they could. Nevertheless, the project’s completion took more than two years since members of the two younger generations had to maintain their full-time jobs.

Yumadomers move in

Move-in Day.

Family members converse in the atrium on move-in day, January 1, 2000.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Despite pride and happiness in what they had accomplished, sadness overshadowed the Yumadomers’ move-in. Jim Grider, Dianne’s husband, had died. Mark said, “Jim lived long enough to see us finish the shell. I really think he stuck around for that. He worked very hard. He had cancer but managed to live for two years with cancer that most people don’t last six months with. I really think he was waiting to make sure we got far enough so that he knew Dianne was going to be taken care of.

“In a way, Jim actually got to move in first,” Mark continued, “because his ashes are up on the hillside, above our dome.”

Everyday life at Yumadome

What’s it like to share a home with ten others, many of whom are not as old or as young as you are and most of whom have individual interests, likes and dislikes?

According to Mark, at Yumadome, it’s surprisingly pleasant and conflict-free. He said, “If it’s during the week, those who work go to work pretty early, and those who are retired do whatever retired people do.”

Meals, cooking and cleaning

What’s cooking?

The centrally located kitchen includes two dishwashers, two sinks and two refrigerators.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Depending on work schedules and other commitments, the Yumadomers eat most of their dinners together. Mark said, “On weekends, we usually have breakfast and a late lunch together, and, of course, we’re still working on the dome, so we work together. There are plenty of things not quite finished.”

Dianne, a retired nurse who enjoys cooking, does most of it and the grocery shopping. When it comes to meal planning, she sometimes asks for the group’s input and preferences, and she sometimes simply fixes what she thinks they will like. Dianne also usually cleans the common rooms, while residents of each suite maintain their areas and laundry.


The Yumadomers established a “family account” to which each household equally contributes and from which bills, including utilities and maintenance, are paid. To Mark’s relief, Dianne agreed to oversee that account. “I asked Dianne to take care of the money, collecting it from everybody—things like that,” Mark said. She’s good at it, she’s willing to do it, and I appreciate it immensely because I’m not good at that kind of thing.”

Asked if there are many disagreements about arrangements or how things are done, Mark said, “No, not at all. We’re all kind of trying to share things—expenses, labor, whatever. We’re still working some things out. As time goes by we learn more—what the utilities add up to and so forth. But everything is shared as everybody can.”

Eight Private Suites.

Eight private living suites each feature French doors to a balcony overlooking the atrium.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0


Noise control played a significant role in Yumadome’s design. Rooms were planned so that the head of a bed was never against a TV on the other side of a shared wall. Mark said, “Noise really isn’t a problem. Most of the bedrooms are away from the atrium, and the sitting rooms are in between, so if you have to sleep or have it quiet, you go into your bedroom and close both sets of doors, and you have it quiet. There was one wall between Curly and Dianne’s that we were kind of concerned about so we had soundproofing put in there.”

Indoor temperatures

Each of Yumadome’s three floors has central air, with a separate thermostat controlling its temperature, but all three are usually set about the same. Mark said that during the winter, the dome itself doesn’t need much, but some of the older residents like a bit more heat. They get that by using a small space heater in their suite.

Blending In.

A traditional Adobe-like entrance helps Yumadome blend into the surrounding landscape.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Sweet Suite.

Plenty of light shines into the private suites through French doors overlooking the atrium.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Cozy Room.

Every suite in the house has its own personality.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Corner Tub.

An oversized corner bathtub and an arched opening in one of the eight suites.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Private Holiday Suite.

The sitting room in a downstairs suite is decorated for the holidays.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Atrium Access.

This private living suite has first floor access to the atrium.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Christmastime is Here.

Yumadome’s Atrium is all decked out and ready for Christmas Carols.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0