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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 262 (251)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 262
Page 262

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 262

Topographical Surveys and Test Borings

These First Steps in Careful Planning Can Save Thousands of Dollars and Future Drive-In Headaches

To a casual observer, the erection of a new drive-in theatre near Danville, Virginia, in the latter half of 1948 presented no radical departures in architectural procedure, no visible innovations to excite more than normal comment. What Danville sidewalk superintendents saw was the omnipresent bulldozer in its routine of pushing earth around, then an orderly struggle with structural steel as the screen tower was put up, with its characteristic silhouette against the sky. Other buildings were erected, ramps constructed, speaker stands placedethe usual program of building proceeded on schedule, and the working crew went through their usual paces.

However, despite the appearance of convention, this was a unique construction job and perhaps symbolic of an advanced trend in drive-in theatre building. Designed by remote control, so to speak, the Danville drive-in was the brain-child of Motiograph engineers far from the actual location, working only with a topographical survey of the proposed site. In the formative stages, not even a photograph of the actual site was consulted, nor in fact did one exist. Credit for the outstanding success of


As the. crow flies, it is a, long way from Danville, Virginia, to Chicago, Illinois. But experienced engineers found a way to annihilate distance. Here is an account of the complete planning of a drive-in theatre, away from the actual site, the secret of the enterprise being essentially the competent utilization of a thorough topographical survey.

this job can be attributed to a well seasoned mixture of theory, practical knowledge and skillful application, the seasoning consisting of a generous dash of experience.

Once the decision was made to build, proper selection of the site became not only the first subsequent act but also the most important. In this choice, Motiograph guided the owner by a welle

THIS BIRD'S-EYE VIEW oi the Crescent Drive-In. Danville. Va., gives some indication of the engenuity employed by the engineers, who, in Chicago. without ever having seen this site, prepared the complete plans for this theatre.

defined set of rules which were applied to the Danville location with happy results. Here the dictates of experience helped them avoid disastrous geographical blunders. In their words: ttWe believe that many of the problems presented to the design engineer could be eliminated in many cases by the more careful selection of the site. We believe that close attention to the following rules for the selection of a Drive-In Theatre should be paid before the site is finally selected:

1. It must be within easy driving distance of a population center. There should be at least 50,000 people with in this distance of the Drive-In Theatre site.

2. The lot itself should be adjacent to, but not necessarily on, a well-travelled main highway.

3. To be a practical money-making enterprise, the Drive-In Theatre should have a capacity of at least 500 cars. To obtain the best layout for the theatre area proper, for a 500 car Drive-In Theatre, the lot should be at least 500 feet wide and 600 feet deep. Roughly, each 100 car increase in capacity will require 100 feet in

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 262