Talk of the Town - Single white dome-owner April 15 2004

An off-the-beaten-path home in Marietta

Joe Gora doesn't exploit his gigantic dome. He steers clear of the fame and fortune that bobble-head contracts would surely bring, opting instead for a more tranquil lifestyle. But what Gora sacrifices in fanfare, he more than makes up in stature. In fact, he boasts a dome large enough to call home.

Following a midlife trans-formation to Zen Buddhism and organic food consumption, Gora ordered and helped build his 42-foot monolithic dome home in Marietta. The exterior is an earthy mud hue minus the transparency of large windows and five skylights, while the interior is an ode to nature. A television producer and consummate chef, Gora's elevated kitchen is the hub of the dome and is used in the filming of his pilot cooking show, "My Fork in the Road," which is still awaiting a contract.

Creative Loafing: I'm not up to date with my domeology, what does "monolithic" mean?

Gora: Mono is one piece, so the construction of the monolithic dome is one big piece of concrete and steel. You order the size of the dome you want, strap it to the base and inflate it with blowers.

How did you get interested in domes?

I get asked that a lot and I can't remember ever getting up one morning and saying, "I want a dome." I was on this Buddha-Zen spiritual path and, you know, you start eating organic health food and reading subjects and you get introduced to domes.

How does the monolithic dome connect with your new lifestyle?

It fits in with my new train of thought and beliefs. It's a component in my spirituality, but it doesn't drive it. If you took it away, it wouldn't change who I am. This is where I want to be. It's just comfortable. My style on this house is to kind of bring the outside in. On the concrete floor, I asked some artists to make it look like stones floating in the water. Even the furniture is somewhat patio-ish, big windows that you can walk right through in the summer. Rainbows float through the place when the sun is high because of the convex skylights.

How practical is a monolithic dome?

Up until this year, I had not used more than $50 in any month on electricity and gas; the dome is extremely efficient in terms of heat transfer on the walls. It's fire and termite proof. This would be the only house standing in the neighborhood if a tornado or earthquake hit. It will be here 1,000 years from now, unless you really want to hit it — like with a bomb.

So why aren't domes more popular? Is it just the conservative nature of humans?

Why hasn't the 40-mile per gallon car or eating organic caught on? Nobody wants to admit that a lifestyle change would reduce various risks. If everybody lived in a dome, there would be no wars in this world because the energy crisis would disappear instantly. We have options now. We're not driving '57 Chevys anymore, so why are we living in the same houses that Abraham Lincoln lived in?