published Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Cleveland's Raider Dome likely to be demolished and replaced

  • photo
    Cleveland High School's Raider Dome, which houses the school's gymnasium, has been closed to students after city school officials reviewed a recent structural analysis of the facility.
    Photo by Paul Leach.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland city school board’s site committee has recommended asking Upland Design to submit proposals to demolish and replace the Raider Dome, which houses Cleveland High School’s gymnasium along with classroom and office space.

The 50-year-old Raider Dome was closed to students earlier this month after a structural analysis found it would need to be closed if it was subjected to winds in excess of 30 mph or to 2 or more inches of snow or ice.

Upland Design was involved in architectural planning for the high school’s science wing, which is adjacent to the dome. Upland Design’s familiarity with the school and the potential for aesthetic cohesiveness also were factors in the recommendation, officials said.

Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools, said the demolition involves interesting challenges, because boilers and other infrastructure are in the lower levels of the building.

Autumn O’Bryan, principal of Cleveland High School, said that if the gym is rebuilt, the new structure should be able to accommodate expected growth.

“We are officially out of classroom space,” she said. “Everyone thinks about basketball and sports … but this is really about classrooms.”

Physical education, health and other classes that were held in the dome have been moved to the volleyball gym and the Jones Center, school officials said.

The school board decided to have a structural analysis done after maintenance officials cited concerns that cracks in the masonry were growing and reviewed the building’s rediscovered architectural plans.

Those 1960s-era plans showed that the walls were not given any internal support, such as expansion joints, school maintenance officials said.

Interior and exterior masonry cracks appear within a few inches of each other and show a significant amount of movement, according to the analysis by architectural consultants Bennett and Pless Inc.

Any repair work to either the dome or the masonry walls would require them to be removed, said Rex Pless, president of the consulting firm.

The city school board will consider the recommendation to use Upland Design during its Jan. 6 meeting.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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