The History of self-supporting Arch buildings
The early years of Wonder Building
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
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.
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 BuildingsIn 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.