April 24th, 2014   

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The History of self-supporting Arch buildings

The early years of Wonder Building

Snow covers
Earth Covered
Storm Shelters
Military Applications
In 1949, Peter S. Pedersen Sr. met an inventor who had a patent on a revolutionary, self-supporting steel arch building. Because this new building product incorporated the strongest shape--that of an arch--not only in its silhouette but also in its panel--this building could support great loads without even one internal support! Peter Pedersen liked this building idea which would cost less and take less time to erect than conventional type buildings. He began to envision the potential this self-supporting arch building would have in meeting the high demand for steel buildings following the war.

In 1950, Peter Pedersen, Sr., his son, Peter S. Pedersen, Jr. and Edward Martin set up a manufacturing company in Chicago to begin manufacturing this new steel building product as "Wonder Building". During the early development of Wonder Building, most sales were of agricultural buildings including machinery storage, grain storage, potato and vegetable storage, and livestock buildings. Wonder Building constantly evolved and new product applications were created. By 1958, about 60% of sales were to the industrial and commercial market. Industrial and commercial applications included warehouses, manufacturing plants, skating rinks, supermarkets and other retail outlets, restaurants, car washes, churches, and American Legion Halls.

The History of Arch Building Engineering

From its very beginnings, engineers have gathered valid strength information about this new building panel. Controlled testing led to the development of the three standard arch panels as well as the development of one, two and three radius buildings. In the 1960s, this engineering data was used to design a computerized engineering program that could properly design and engineer buildings. Currently, this proprietary computerized arch engineering program is owned and maintained by American Shelter.

Engineering tests on Wonder Building panels and products have been conducted by entities such as the Air Force Special Weapons Center, the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, the Army Corps of Engineers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) the Testing laboratory of U.C.L.A. and the New Mexico Engineering Research Institute of the University of New Mexico. Wonder Building engineering has also been evaluated by most of the major engineering firms in the United States including Brown & Root, Morrison-Knutson, Dillingham, Holmes & Narver, Sterns-Roger, the Bechtel Group, the U.S. Navy, NASA, Boeing Aerospace, Lockhead Aerospace and several Department of Energy Facilities. They have always concurred with our data.

Development of Special Applications

The strength of the Wonder "True-Arch" panel has allowed it to solve even very difficult shelter problems economically. Sound business practices surrounding the Wonder Building system have also contributed to its success. These practices include 1) maintaining the highest level of quality assurance and quality in manufacturing, 2) continually developing the product for new markets, and 3) focusing on our customer's needs. Throughout their history, Wonder Buildings have pioneered the development of new applications, working with the military and government agencies and private industry to solve new shelter problems.

High Loading - Snow Covered Buildings

During the late 1950s, Wonder Buildings became involved in the development of the first permanent stations in Antarctica. Wonder Buildings are covered year-round with snow and ice in the Arctic as well as Antarctica. The third generation of South Pole Wonder Buildings were shipped in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

High Loading - Earth Covered Buildings and Hardened Shelters

Wonder Buildings have been used for a variety of earth-covered and hardened applications including underground homes, underground tank and pipe covers, storm shelters, fallout shelters, bomb shelters, aircraft shelters, and other protective shelters.

Storm Shelters, Fallout Shelters, and Bomb Shelters

Engineering and design was done on earth-covered buildings. One new application included underground tornado and fallout shelters. These buildings were sold all over the country and featured in Life Magazine (September 15, 1961, pp. 106-107).

Wonder Buildings have been been successfully tested as ammunition shelters, earth-covered shelters, and hardened aircraft shelters by the United States Department of Defense.

The Wonder Building Arch Panel is the only arch panel to successfully pass the tornadic missile impact test (independent testing by Texas Tech University Wind Engineering Laboratory).

Wonder Buildings provide ammunition shelters, blast shelters, underground and earth covered shelters, and storm shelters. Full design and engineering support is available through independent firms experienced in shelter design and engineering.

Military Applications

During the 1960s, Wonder Building designed Hardened Aircraft Shelter Liners in cooperation with the Air Force Weapons Testing Laboratory and supplied the initial liners for Vietnam. We have also worked with the Air Force in designing earth-covered protective shelters for aircraft. In the 1980s, we supplied one-third and one-quarter models of the liners for testing by the University of New Mexico Engineering Research Institute. Currently, we are an approved vendor for the NATO Third Generation Hardened Aircraft Shelter Program. Our earth-covered ammunition shelters were successfully tested by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Liftable and Stackable Buildings

In the early 1960s, a new Wonder Building application, Liftable Buildings, was developed for the U.S. Naval Shipyards. Liftable Wonder Buildings are portable structures, and yet have all the durability and security of a steel building.

Further, Liftable Wonder Buildings can either be moved intact or can be disassembled, moved, and reassembled at another site. In the beginning, these covers were used mainly as security and weather covers for the shipyards. By the mod-1970s, however, other industries had demands for durable buildings that would also lower construction costs and reduce risks to workers. Other Liftable Wonder Building applications include liftable dam covers, hazardous waste pond covers, and radioactive waste storage. Innovative developments such as roof-hatch openings and attached walkways have allowed Wonder Buildings to solve even difficult construction problems.

Copyright 2003 - American Shelter Technologies, Inc.