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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 250 (226)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 250
Page 250

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 250

The Principles of Seating Installations

The How and Why of Seating Arrangements That Make All Seats "Best in the House"

The motion-picture theatre is designed for the primary function of viewing a projected picture under the most favorable conditions. The various equipment items and materials that go into the building*the projectors and sound equipment, seating, air-conditioning, heating plant, acoustical treatment, carpeting and so forth-are integrally related in their contribution to this fundamental purpose. Essentially, it all revolves around Mr. John Q. Patron, who buys an admission ticket and walks down the aisle to find his seat. From that seat, no matter what its location in the auditorium, conditions for viewing the picture and hearing the sound must be as ideal as possible with respect to comfort, convenience and safety. '

As the theatre chair is the one piece of equipment which provides the most intimate contact with the patron, the problems of seating and the effective use of space and position are among the most important considerations in planning a theatre building. The theatre owner, his architect, the chair manufacturer, and the contractor should cooperate closely in planning and construction so that the seating when finally installed will offer the very best conditions. .

There is much more to this than simply ordering a certain number of chairs and bolting them to the auditorium door. Having determined the size and shape of the auditorium, the architect, in preparing the door plans, gives careful consideration to the incline or slope of the floor. The chair radius lines are figured accurately in relation to the width and length of the seating area, as well as to the width and height of the screen, in order to obtain the most favorable viewing conditions. Exits, aisles, and crossovers are located and the row-toerow spacing of chairs determined according to the requirements of the local building code where one exists. Provision must also be made for the exact location of door ventilators, aisle-light outlets and hearing-aid conduits. Regardless of the particular seating arrangements used, these fundamental factors and others, too, will be given careful consideration before the architects plan is completed.


One of the most important problems is that of establishing the proper floor slope to provide satisfactory sight lines. The architect will give this careful thought before going ahead with overall plans for the building because the amount of excavation necessary, height and depth of the stage platform, size and position of the screen, location of the projection booth port holes, overhang of the balcony (if there is a balcony), and other important construction details are all related to the seat unit and its position on the auditorium floor.


Sta] Assistant to General Sales Manager American Searing Company


The location of the last row of chairs just ahead of the foyer is one of the key points used in arriving at the proper iioor incline. In laying out this row, ample clearance from the foyer wall or standee rail should be allowed for the flare in the chair back. Other basic factors are the location of the stage and position of the screen. The architect has determined the approximate width and depth of the stage which will be kept at a minimum if the theatre is to be used exclusively for the showing of motion pictures. Generally speaking, the total amount of door drop below the foyer level at the front of the auditorium averages approximately 34 inch to the foot for the distance from the back row of chairs to the front of the stage. The stage should be low enough to avoid areas on the screen which are blocked out from the eyes of anyone seated in the front row of chairs. Likewise, the screen should be high enough to clear the head of a person standing in front of the stage, thus avoiding any possible interference with the projected picture.

The size and shape of the auditorium r

and the proscenium arch will determine the screen dimensions, governed, of course, by the length of the projectorlens focus and the distance from the lens to the screen. Roughly speaking, the width of the screen should be from onesixth to one-fifth the distance from the back row of chairs to the screen position. The screen height, of course, will be in

proportion to the width, depending somewhat on the angle of projection.

The next step is to establish a common focal point on the screen from which the sight lines for all chair rows throughout the auditorium will be related to determine the proper floor incline. Location of this key focal point on the screen is sometimes subject to debate. Some architects prefer to use the lower edge of the screen, while others use a point onethird or one-fourth the screen height from the lower edge. These positions are based on the theoretical sight line clearances adopted for obtaining the same amount of vision throughout the auditorium. In general, let us say that the focal point should always be located at least low enough on the screen to include those areas where most of the photographed action takes place in the projected picture.

Using this focal point and starting from the-incline break (which should be located 3 inches in back of the chairsize line for the rear row of chairs) the floor slope can be calculated for each series of chair rows. The chair-size line is the fioor layout line on which the chair widths are measured and is usually located at the front or back of the rear foot on the middle standard of the chair.

Sight-line clearances are based on the assumption that the average height of a person in a sitting position is 3 feet 8 inches from the fioor and that the.average height of an individualis eye to the top of his head varies from 4 to 51/3 inches (see illustration). Consequently, when the sight line for one row clears the vision point of the row directly ahead by 4 inches or more to a common fixed focal point and when this same relation SIGHT LINE CLEARANCES are highly important in a seating installation. One of the most important problems in provlding satisfactory sight lines is that of establishing the proper floor slope. Sight-line clearances are based on the assumption that the average height of a person sitting is 3 feet 8 inches from the floor and that the average height of an individual's eye to the top of his head varies from 4 to 51/8 inches. (All diagrams in tnis article have been especially prepared for use here by Irving C. Folger and the American Seating Company.)


1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 250