Bosnian Mosque Design 1 of 3

A Straightforward Approach to a Round Design


Challenging or unusual projects typically stretch a component manufacturer’s (CMs) operational capabilities in some fashion.  The height or span of a truss is limited by the width or length of their gantry table.  At times, the weight can present an interesting logistical challenge for material handling equipment and transportation to the jobsite.  In the case of the Bosnian Mosque El Salam, located in Granger, Iowa, the trussed dome encountered an unexpected limitation: the design software.

“Our design software has a limit of around 400 individual reference lines, or pieces,” says Ken Knapik, the lead designer on the project for Plum Building Systems (Plum). “Through the process of turning straight boards into a 20-foot tall curved arch, I exceeded the limit of the software and it kept crashing on me!”

To appreciate the monumental work accomplished in completing this project, it’s good to get a sense for its overall size and scope and how the design department and production team worked together to get it all done without a hitch.

Bosnian Mosque El Salam

On April 22, the Islamic and Cultural Center Bosniak of Des Moines (ICCB) broke ground on a $2.5 million-dollar mosque in Granger, Iowa in April. Elvedin Sivac, president of the ICCB, said in a local television interview it is the first mosque built in the state of Iowa.

According to Wikipedia, two common features of a mosque one would see from the exterior is a minaret and a dome. 

“[The minaret is a] tall, slender tower that usually is situated at one of the corners of the mosque structure. The top of the minaret is always the highest point in mosques that have one, and often the highest point in the immediate area…Before the five required daily prayers, a Mu’adhdhin calls the worshippers to prayer from the minaret…A mosque dome, often placed directly above the main prayer hall, may signify the vaults of the heaven and sky.”

It’s important to point out that the ICCB is a non-profit organization. Raising the necessary funds to build the intended structure had to come primarily from the community. On the Facebook fundraising page created for the mosque, Sivac indicates they initially raised $1.2 million to start the project.  That said, the original blueprints were scrutinized heavily to find opportunities for cost savings.

Helping a Customer

The mosque’s dome was designed entirely out of steel. However, a local single-family homebuilder who served on the ICCB’s board was curious whether it could be built out of wood instead.  “We build almost all of his roof and floor trusses, so he came to us first wondering if we could do it,” says Ray Wright, the head of sales for Plum.  “He was hoping we could do it for less cost than the steel dome they had priced out.”

A Meaningful Project

“Working on projects likes these are a win for everyone,” says Ray. “We can be a hero for the customer and our great team has an opportunity to show off the great work they can do.” While the mosque is not fully funded or completed, the savings they were able to realize through the rood trussed-dome they can apply to other parts of the structure. Jim adds, “this building was literally outside the box. It was cool to see how we could turn flat boards into a smooth, round dome.”
“What I love most about projects like this is how they push the envelope of what we think trusses are capable of accomplishing,” says Ken. “It also pushes my own limits as a designer.” Not to mention the limits of his software.
Other images we can potentially incorporate: