> > > >

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 26 (4)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 26
Page 26

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 26

Wood as a Theatre Construction Material

Laminated Arches, Plywood Panels Presage Coming of All-Wood Pre-Fabricated Cinemas

There has been much speculation on the use of modern structural and decorative building material as soon as war restrictions are removed and the fruits of intensive development are made available in all their variety and quantity. Many of these products are known by their trade names, but not as widely as they should be, While their composition and application to specific purposes remain in a kind of hopeful state of suspended public optimism, much as is created by a good magicianis act. Countless articles are undeniably going to come out of the hat all right, but what will happen after that?

So vague is much of the public knowledge about these developments of the nationis best research in this field that the impression is arising that many of these products are practical do-alls for all related needs. On the contrary, each product is scientifically created for a certain purpose and has had characteristics engineered into it for supremacy within that purpose.

It is to enlarge theatre managementis knowledge of which of these materials are applicable to their needs, and in what degree, that this article is presented.

CROSS-SECTION VIEW of a glued laminated struc< tural section. This piece was cut from the end of the section, as fabricated by Unit Structures, lnc.


The building material to be examined is glued laminated wood in some of its forms most adaptable to theatre needs. While this material is not new, having been in successful use for more than thirty-five years, some of the modern applications of its use are now being widely scrutinized. To this end, two men were carefully selected for their highly specialized points of view. The first is

FACTORY-BUlLT, INSULATED PLYWOOD PANELS, built by Unit Structures, Inc,, are being placed on top of glued laminated arches. Such glued laminated arches have been erected for a 50-foot span building (clear spans have been made as wide as l80 feet). Pre-fabricafed, insulated panels, placed from arch to arch, are rapidly lifted into place; thus, the iob of closing in the building is being done with a few men. Arches with finish already applied are covered with paper, which is removed after the building is all set up. Note that here the roof beam and its supporting column are a unit, having a gracefully curved, boomerang shape.

it 131:7 I

,. var-[Wklng .-....


M. C. Hanisch, Jr., one of the founders of Unit Structures, Inc., of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, an outstanding company in this field which pioneered all glued laminated wood construction in the United States. And the second is Hanns R. Teichert, head of the Chicago studios of the same name, one of the largest theatre decorating firms in the country. These two eminently qualified specialists dovetail their views, so as to present a whole picture of what qualities and advantages certain types of glued laminated wood have to offer theatre management.

In the first place, let us define what is meant by glued laminated Wood. Mr. Hanisch explains that it is the process of forcibly gluing, under high pressure, various layers of wood of predetermined moisture content into solid units, using structural glues of high water resistance to form a solid bond without the use of any mechanical fasteners. Pound for pound, the result has greater strength than steel, a fact recognized and taken advantage of by the aircraft industry.


A glued laminated arch spanning a building generally begins at the foundation and consists of two rigid half sections which are bolted or hinged at the crown. Therefore, roof support and column are a unit, which provides decidedly greater stability than is afforded through separate trusses and supporting columns artificially connected. An answer to greater safety, especially in the matter of resisting shock from earthquakes, is thus provided.

Fire Resistance Besides this superiority, it is the unan . imous conclusion of such authorities as

the National Fire Protection Association, the United States Department of Commerce Building Code Committee, the Inspection Department Association, the Chicago Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the Underwriter-Si Laboratory, and many others, that four-by-four sections of wood will resist fire as well as an exposed steel truss, while six-by-six inch sections of laminated wood will be superior in resisting fire.

This seemed a surprising fact, but Mr. Hanisch went on to explain that steel, unlike wood, expands considerably if subjected to heat. Thus a bare steel truss, if heated to even 500 or 600 degrees, could force the walls of a building out of plumb long before any other serious damage will be done. In case of fire, bare steel work is quickly distorted by heat, and complete failure under tension may occur as low as 1,200 degreeseeand ordinary fires reach much higher temperatures. Laminated wood, first of all,

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 26