domed/arched roofs non-aesthetic purpose?

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domed/arched roofs non-aesthetic purpose?

Post by zolds0 »

I am researching the history of a local shopping center (Colonial Village, Lansing, MI). I noticed where a National Market Basket was located the exterior roof-line becomes arched/domed. The structure barely peaks over the original brick facade (ca 1952-3) and therefore I assume it was not for a visual aesthetic (externally). My question is…back in the Fifties was there a mechanical/HVAC theory that prompted this kind of roof for grocery stores (the adjacent stores all have flat roofing)…or do you think that there was a domed/high ceiling aesthetic on the inside? Unfortunately, I have been unable to find interior pictures from this period. The space ceased to be a supermarket in 1969. It was subdivided into smaller tenants, all with dropped ceiling tiles.

These links are intended to be Google street views… (I’m not 100% sure they will work correctly.) ... 312!8i6656 ... 84.5555347

Your thoughts are appreciated!
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Re: domed/arched roofs non-aesthetic purpose?

Post by wnetmacman »

I believe it was more from a structural standpoint. In that day and age, flat roofs weren't being built yet because they didn't hold up as well due to design restrictions and flaws of the time. The alternative was this barrel-roof design. Builders could have full trusses holding up the roof in a more stable manner. It was also popular because the rain and snow could run right off. It also made for higher ceilings in the middle. I know Safeway, Jewel, and several others used this design. Safeway further modified it with the Marina style of stores that they built in every region they operated in.

I don't believe it to be HVAC related.
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Re: domed/arched roofs non-aesthetic purpose?

Post by Groceteria »

Agreed. Structural was probably the main reason as it allowed for a large, column-free space. You see it in theatres and bowling alleys too, for example.
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Re: domed/arched roofs non-aesthetic purpose?

Post by rich »

Definitely structural. Used for ice rinks, auditoriums, train stations, rail sheds, etc. where you needed large open spaces w/o pillars.They were in use many decades before the Safeways, Kohl's, Penn Fruit, etc. versions; however the barrel vault often was hidden from exterior view and inside things like dropped ceilings or recessed skylights would have made the slopes less obvious. My guess is that exposing the barrel vault made construction cheaper as well as creating locally distinctive stores.
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Re: domed/arched roofs non-aesthetic purpose?

Post by Super S »

I have also seen a number of early Kmart stores which had a dome shape to the roof, but are hidden inside by suspended ceilings.
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