KCS Provides Status Update on Dobyns-Bennett High School Buck Van Huss Dome

During ongoing review by local and national engineering consultants, Kingsport City Schools is continuing the closure of the Buck Van Huss Dome at Dobyns-Bennett High School while awaiting a final report on the gymnasium’s wooden Lamella dome structure.  

Due to the continued closure, Kingsport City Schools and the City of Kingsport are executing contingency plans to renovate the KCS gymnasium at the former Sullivan North High School to prepare the facility for long-term use by the Kingsport community and Kingsport City Schools, as well as for the upcoming Dobyns-Bennett High School basketball season.


  • While preparing for a campus-wide roofing project at Dobyns-Bennett, Kingsport City Schools executed structural testing during Summer 2022 on the wooden Lamella dome structure in the Buck Van Huss Dome.  Such testing was pursued as a proactive measure due to the material and age of the structure (wooden beams over 50 years old) prior to resurfacing of the dome roof.  Results of the initial test indicated reduced moisture content and density in the dome’s upper wooden rings.  Out of caution while seeking additional information, KCS and Dobyns-Bennett High School closed use of the gymnasium, relocating school and athletic activities to other areas of the D-B campus, the Civic Auditorium, and other locations in Kingsport.
  • During the week of August 15, 2022, engineers from Dome Technology (Idaho), a recognized leader in dome engineering and construction, visited the Dobyns-Bennett campus to physically inspect the dome structure and review the previously collected data.  The initial response from the engineers while on-site confirmed the previous decision to stop use of the dome out of an abundance of caution while a final analysis and report was produced.  Officials with Kingsport City Schools and Dobyns-Bennett High School expect the final report to be received in the coming days.
  • Due to the timeframe of the expected receipt of the dome analysis report, officials with KCS and the City of Kingsport are recommending executing contingency plans to renovate the KCS gymnasium at the former Sullivan North High School to prepare the facility for long-term use by the Kingsport community and Kingsport City Schools, as well as for the upcoming Dobyns-Bennett High School basketball season. The bid process for this project is currently underway, with bids scheduled to be opened on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
  • Though Kingsport City Schools has yet to receive a final report from Dome Technology, KCS has not received any initial indication that a recommendation to immediately restart activities in the dome is forthcoming.  Because of this and to best safely prepare for any upcoming recommendations, KCS has decided to proactively install shoring supports to the dome structure’s upper rings.  This shoring is intended to provide an added layer of support while any final resolution is determined and is anticipated to be a component of such scenarios.
  • Was there any specific event or incident that led to the closing of the Buck Van Huss Dome? No, the closure of the dome was not in reaction to any incident or damage.  It was done out of caution once the initial testing data indicated a reduction in moisture content and density of the three uppermost wooden rings of the dome and while additional expert guidance was sought.
  • Have activities resumed in other areas near the dome facility? Yes, based on guidance from engineers and the State Fire Marshal, areas such as classrooms near the gym, the pool, and the auxiliary gym have been determined to be safe for student and staff use.  The only area closed by KCS out of caution is the dome gymnasium.
  • What has been done to prepare for possible next steps? When the dome was initially closed, contingency planning immediately began to address a variety of possible scenarios regarding D-B academic and athletic needs.  KCS, D-B, and City staff have been working to address potential current and future needs, such as relocating D-B wellness classes to the Civic Auditorium, finding practice and game locations for athletic teams currently in-season, and developing options for winter sports.
  • Why was the decision made to renovate the KCS gymnasium at the former Sullivan North campus? Currently owned by KCS, the gymnasium serves as a community asset that can not only meet the current need for D-B gym space, but will address an identified need for district, City, and community use moving forward.  The decision was made to immediately pursue renovations due to the initial and ongoing recommendations to cease use of the dome gymnasium while analysis continued, as well the timeframe needed to complete desired renovations for the winter sports season.
  • What work needs to be done to the gymnasium to prepare it for KCS and City use? KCS, D-B, and City of Kingsport officials believe strongly that Kingsport students and the community deserve a quality facility that will serve both the short and long-term needs of the Kingsport community.  Work is underway to prepare for improvements to the gymnasium’s HVAC system, restroom and concession areas, gymnasium lighting, seating areas and playing surface, as well as locker room and coaching areas.
  • When are improvements expected to take place? KCS and City officials are working with architects and engineers to immediately begin improvement efforts with a projected initial completion date of December, 2022.  School and City staff are working expeditiously to ensure purchasing and contract procedures are followed in a timely manner to allow for timely completion of the renovation project.
  • What are the next steps for the Buck Van Huss Dome? Once received by KCS, the written report by Dome Technologies will provide information that will guide next actions by District and City officials.  It is anticipated that this analysis will include a recommendation as to the usage plan for the facility, as well as if potential remediation/repair needs to be explored.