Did You Know: Michigan Is Home to The Largest Wooden Dome in The World
The Mitten never ceases to amaze me! In an attempt to learn more about my home state I recently stumbled upon another Michigan fun fact. Not only can Michigan lay claim to housing the world's largest weathervane or the world's largest crucifix, but just the other day I learned that Michigan is also home to the world's largest wooden dome.
Located in Marquette, MI on the campus of Northern Michigan University, the "Superior Dome" was named not only the largest wooden dome, but the fifth largest dome in the world by the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records. But how did this colossal structure come to be in the first place?
Building the Dome
Architect firm TMP of Bloomfield Hills, MI designed the 14-story high geodesic domed complex as a multi-purpose space for both Northern Michigan University (NMU) athletics and community events. The structure was constructed using 781 Douglas fir beams and covers an area of 5.1 acres. One of the dome's most impressive features is its retractable turf!
With a diameter of 536 feet, the dome has permanent seating for 8,000 people but can actually hold up to 16,000 for special events. The unique structure of the dome allows it to withstand the harsh U.P. winters as the roof is able to withstand 60 pounds of snow per square foot and withstand up to 80 mph winds. You know how rough it can get up there!
Phase 1 of the project was completed in the fall of 1991 by a Detroit, MI based contractor with the first phase costing nearly $22 million dollars, funded entirely by the State of Michigan.
Who Uses the Dome?
Today the dome is used by NMU for Wildcats football, track and field events, marching band, and commencement events. Because of its size the dome is the perfect place to host large events like MHSAA competitions.
The dome is also used for community events like the Special Olympics. President George W. Bush even used the dome during a campaign stop in 2004 and set a record for attendance with 11,000 people in the crowd!
What I can't help but wonder is, has it ever been used for a concert? With it's unique shape and wooden acoustics I'm thinking this would be one killer spot to see a show! Who would you like to see play the superior dome?