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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 144 (122)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 144
Page 144

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 144

States and Cities Consider Pre-Fabrication

Survey Indicates Mass-Produced Theatres Must Stand on Own Merits to Gain Approval

That theory and practice do not necessarily go hand in hand is a fact which needs no confirmation. Accordingly in any consideration of pro-fabrication, whether of theatres or any other type of structure, it should be mandatory upon the commentator somewhere in his discussion to consider the practical aspects of the problem and to consider whether or not the anticipated development, however nice and law-abiding it may seem on paper, could be brought into reality.

Any type of construction must, as everyone knows, pass some sort of odicial examination and before actual work can be started, approval for the project must be obtained. In the normal course of events, the difficulty of obtaining approval seems to be proportional to the degree which the general public can be expected to use the projected structure. And thus it is that theatres, halls, and other gathering places of the public must pass the most stringent of requirements.

Pre-fabrication, by virtue of past performances and connotations of the name in reference to structures of sudicient size as to serve for groups of people, has not been as ffpermanent" as structures erected, on site, from the ground up. However, this may be just one of the many vagaries of the public mind, for, actually, when properly constructed, a pre-fabricated building is as architecturally sound and structurally safe as any other.

A second connotation in the public mind is that of easy destruction, by fire or through any other means. It is quite probable that this impression is of pre-war origin-back in the days when pie-fabrication meant plywood, and plywood meant virtual tinder. But today, although pre-fabrication may involve the use of plywood, that plywood can be made of practically the same degree of fire resistance one thinks of in connection with the metals.

But these presently erroneous conceptions continue.

When laws are drawneand when municipal regulations are passedean effort is made to have them inclusive and permanent, even though architectural and engineering progress, while inclusive, is never static. And so it is that times change and ideas of construction change, but the laws and regulations continue.

It is, then, important to take a glance at the building codes of the states and cities to find out what the present situation is in reference to prefabricated theatres.

When, in July, 1945, the story broke about the prospective establishment by the National Theatres Amusement Company, Inc., of a subsidiary to make and distribute all-steel, prefabricated the

atres, the Editors of the BETTER MANAGEMENT Department of THE EXHIBITOR and of THE THEATRE CATALOG undertook to find out what the states and cities thought of the idea as it then existed and to determine whether such theatres could, under existing regulations, be built.

Accordingly, copies of the August 1, 1945, issue of BETTER MANAGEMENT were sent to each of the 48 states and the District of Columbia, and to the largest city in each state. The largest city was selected because it was considered that there might be found the most strict regulations covfering theatre construction, and if these cities would permit construction of pre-fabricated theatres, then probably the smaller communities would also approve.

The following paragraphs present a cross-section of the nations opinion on the question of building of pro-fabricated theatres. Whatever the readers conclusion may be, it must not be forgotten that, no matter how excellent may be this basic idea, the final realization of this, or any theatre project, rests upon the ability of the plans and specifications of the project to meet the requirements of a specific building code.


City of Birmingham

In the city of Birmingham, the allsteel, pre-fabricated theatre would not, according to H. E. Hagood, chief building inspector, meet the requirements in Number One fire zone, or Group A theatre. However, it was his opinion that this type of construction would be approved by the Board of Appeals for Group B and C theatres 01 see no objection," Hagood stated, ffto this type of structure, but I do question the interior decoration?


City and County of San Francisco

Although it does not appear that the proposed type of construction is prohibited by the San Francisco Building Code, F. H. Spitzer, chief structural engineer, declared that no definite answer could be given until an application for a building permit had been filed with the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Building Inspection, and after proper examination of the plans and specifications.


Colorado has no state building code

covering construction of the all-steel,

pie-fabricated type, all ordinances being handled by local municipalities.

City and County of Denver

The ordinance of the city and county of Denver would prohibit, according to


Lyle D. Webber, chief building inspector, any type of construction except fire-resistant construction for theatres with a seating capacity of over 1,000. Theatres and moving-picture houses having a seating capacity of less than 1,000, and having no permanent stage, may be constructed of all-metal, provided the door area is limited to 16,000 square feet, when located on one street; 19,000 square feet, when located on two streets; and 22,000 square feet when located on three or more streets. Such buildings are, Webber explained, limited to one story in height. The approval of such buildings would, of course, be subject to the design complying with structural requirements as provided in the Denver Code. "I am unable to say What other cities and towns in Colorado? Webber continued, ffmight require for similar buildings},


According to Teresa W. Ewell, executive secretary to Gov. Walter W. Bacon, Delaware has no state building inspector, building inspecting being in the province of the several municipalities.


City of Washington

The all-steel, pre-fabricated theatres as described could not, according to J. B. Daly, chief engineer, Department of Building Inspection, be built in the District under the Code and the Act of June 1, 1910. The District of Columbia Building Code calls for masonry walls and fully fire-resistive construction. The Act of 1910 required fully fire-resistive construction. uThese buildings/i states Daly, itare of exposed metal wall construction and fluted metal roof construction. Interior partitions are also of exposed metal construction. This type of construction is not fire-resistive as defined in the D. C. Building Code?

Deputy Director of Inspection Robert H. Davis declared, uI concur in Mr. Dalyis report."


C. H. Overman, director of the Florida State Improvement Commission, states that Florida has no general building code and, accordingly, no state building commissioner. Municipalities throughout the state have enacted various codes.

City of Jacksonville

Jacksonville regulations require fireproof construction for theatres seating more than 300 persons, states W. B. Simmons, supervisor of buildings. It would be necessary, he went on to say, to examine detailed drawings before decision could be reached whether the pro CATALOG-1945

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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 144