Musical Fundraisers and Energy Savings: Mark Henrikson Reviews 23 Years at Yumadome

Beautiful Evolution.

Yumadome has evolved into a beautiful, modern desert dream home.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Musical Friends.

Henrikson (in blue in the back) and his friends from the Yuma Community Theater.

Mark Henrikson / Submitted Media

The sweet sounds of singing and celebration filled Yumadome as Yuma Community Theater enjoyed its annual fundraiser. Nine singers belted Broadway tunes, and Mark Henrikson, the Monolithic Dome home’s co-owner (and co-builder), sang Ursula’s song from “The Little Mermaid.”

“The acoustics are awesome,” Henrikson said. “It sounds marvelous in the dome.”

They created a buffet and hosted two shows, Taste of Broadway and Bite of Broadway. Yumadome held 35 people for the dinner theater and 90 for the stage show, filling the space with music and laughter.

“People love the setting, and it’s gorgeous, aesthetically gorgeous,” Henrikson said.

Yumadome has three stories and 11,000 square feet of living space. The dome is 84 feet in diameter and almost 40 feet tall. Twenty-three years ago, four generations of the family shared ideas, designed and built their dream home, and then moved into Yumadome together.

“It has exceeded all our expectations,” he said.

Fall Festivities.

The Yumadomers love to decorate the atrium for every occasion.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The interior layout is conducive to multiple generations living happily in the same home. The family can gather in the shared areas of the lower level, which include a big kitchen, a computer room, an entertainment room, and an atrium. On the upper levels, there are eight suites, each with its own bedroom(s), bathroom, sitting room, kitchenette, and laundry. As temperatures outside rise as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the dome stays cool and comfortable with central air.

Sleek Profile.

Yumadome looks all grown up with a sleek profile, mature landscaping and upper wraparound deck.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

“We save so much on air conditioning,” Henrikson said. We save more than half. In fact, when we called up the power company, the APS (Arizona Public Service) lady looked up our account and said, based on our wattage usage, we must have a large house of 4000 square feet. I told her no, we had 11,500 square feet. Even before we started using solar power, our usage was that of a house less than half its size.“

Henrikson reported that energy bills stayed below expectations, even though they have 11 refrigerators and freezers, an electric range, a well that pulls 2.3 kilowatts an hour, and a panel of windows that spans 1000 square feet. They do get plenty of sunshine, so ultimately, solar power made good sense for them. In 2005, they put in 10,000 watts and added 7,000 more watts five years later.

Banquet Setting.

The large and sunny atrium hosts all kinds of family and community events.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The unique Monolithic Dome house hasn’t needed much upkeep in the 23 years since they first moved in. They’ve done minor maintenance, such as repairing a tear in the Airform and repainting the exterior. All in all, Yumadome has withstood the fierce Arizona desert weather with grace.

Yumadome began as a conversation between Henrikson and his wife, Mary. Many of their family members were considering making a move, and they wanted to stay close to family. Mary’s parents, Dianne and Jim Grider, her grandfather, Curly Pugh, Henrikson’s sister, Judi, and her husband, Tim Williams, became part of the founding family members. Henrikson’s parents, Marcy and Jack Henrikson, and Tim and Judi’s daughters, Rozz and Crystal, also joined the initial group.

“People who choose domes like to live creatively,” Henrikson said.

They all began to dream together about how they’d like to live, and they found 13 acres of land. When the Henriksons remembered an article they had read about Monolithic Domes, the whole group soon realized they’d found common ground to put beneath their castles in the air. Henrikson and his brother-in-law, Tim Williams, attended a Monolithic Dome Builders Workshop in 1998 and then enlisted the work of Chris Hengl, a contractor, to help with construction. They wanted to stay frugal, and they did all the framing themselves.

In an article about the build, Henrikson wrote, “We did hire some help when it came to spraying the shotcrete. We needed more ‘educated hands’ than we had for a project of this size. Something about spraying nearly a half million pounds of concrete in the air and wanting it to stay there kind of screamed for a little extra help.”

Henrikson’s wife, Mary, took to calling the home “BURT” for “Big Ugly Round Thing,” but he says she loves it plenty now, and there’s no denying the beauty of the interior. The move into Yumadome on New Year’s Day 2000 meant a new beginning for this multigenerational family.

“Y2K or no Y2K, we were ready,” Henrikson said.

Henrikson said Yumadome has withstood some earthquakes, including quite a few that registered 5+ on the Richter scale. The Algodones fault zone traverses the Yuma Desert at the edge of the San Andreas district, and the area is at moderate risk for earthquakes, with five disasters in the past twenty years.

Music of the Night.

Henrikson and Jennifer Wayman performed a “Phantom of the Opera” selection together at Yumadome.

Mark Henrikson / Submitted Media

In one of his blog posts, Henrikson shared that the first earthquake that Yumadome experienced happened during its construction, and it didn’t even crack the shotcrete they had sprayed that day. The second one occurred after they had poured 180,000 pounds of concrete for the second floor, and they heard not a pop nor a groan. The strongest earthquake of the past two decades registered at 7.2 sixty miles away, he said, and they did feel that one for quite a while, with no damage done.

“The biggest strength challenge happened when a big machine pumping concrete hit the dome with its boom,” Henrikson said. “It was hit with (the force of) thousands of pounds, but the concrete stayed strong.”

Henrikson and his wife, Mary; his niece, Rozz; his mother-in-law, Dianne Grider; and Tim and Pat Williams, reside together in Yumadome now. The suites provide quiet and privacy, and they can gather for family time and parties in the spacious shared areas.

“It has lived up to every promise,” Henrikson said. “It’s got strength. It’s got efficiency. And the acoustics make me sound like a better singer.”

Playground and Roses.

A playground is nestled between Yumadome and the residents’ flowering landscape.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Formal Affair.

Yumadome is all dressed up for a formal occasion.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

A Desert Beauty.

Yumadome melts into the beautiful Arizona desert landscape at sunset.

Mark Henrikson / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0