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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 355 (342)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 355
Page 355

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 355

Fundamentals of Correct Theatre Seating

The Relationship of Planned Sightlines to Spacing and Floor Slope that Insures Adequate Vision to Patrons

Poor visibility and uncomfortable seats are often the end product of imperfect theatre design. They are invariably a poor advertisement for the house unlucky enough to possess them and in these days of hungry competition should be removed or modified, to provide patrons the best vision and comfort available. Factors determining the seating layout include: sight lines, floor slopes, staggering, back to back spacing. Desirable arrangements are treated in the following discussion and the author makes several recommendations on the basis of his experience.

Importance of Seating

How many times have you heard this said-ffGive me a good picture and 111 pack them in, seats or no seatsll? That was true years ago but times have changed. The same exhibitor who belit FIGURE l-Standard measurements of the seated patron are very important to sight line engineering.

By FELIX W. ALEXA Eastern Sales Manager, Kroehler leg. Co.

tled seating is now faced with the ever growing field of outdoor entertainment, increasing numbers of home television sets, and a neighbor with a plan for a better theatre. Today he must think of better seats, more comfort, and better theatre design with good sight lines, as well as good pictures.

I am reminded of an experience I had about ten years ago when my former boss, the late Mr. Olmsted, asked me to call on one of his clients to discuss plans for reseating a well known Broadway house. The reseating program was brought about because a neighboring owner had built a theatre with better seats, more comfort, etc., and the business was all going his way. The old seats were really out of date too, so something had to be done to bring the customers back. I do not know just how it happened, but when it came time for me to say my piece to help close the deal, I told the buyer that before spend ing any money on new seats he would do better to spend the money improving the floor so that the patrons could see the stage and the screen. This theatre had been designed by a well known architect, one of the best in the business, and the theatre had been in operation since 1919ethe pride of the Circuit. I can still see the buyer sitting at his desk, puffing away on his cigar, and the anger mounting in his face as my suggestion implied in his mind that he had a poorly designed theatre; while my bossis expression was one of complete disgust. The buyer blew his top and demanded that I prove my statement. Arrangements were made to meet at the theatre next day with the architect, builder, and other experts. Test check of the sight lines disclosed, to the amazement of all, that fifth row vision was all that could be had for the rear third of the orchestra Hoor. Upon checking back against the original drawings it was discovered that someone had departed from the drawings and taken a short cut, at the expense of good sight lines. It was evident this condition had to be changed before reseating, and at a great expense. In this case the extra cost was almost as much as the cost of the new chairs.

It is the architect who is responsible for good vision, arrangement, and spacing of the chairs, and the determination of the floor slope. More and more, however, both architects and theatre owners expect and demand that the seating company check, or furnish sight line analy51s.

Problems Involved in Seating

When we consider the problem of sight lines, floor slopes and seating comfort, we find that all three .are so related that it is impossible to solve one without taking the others into account. We must first start with the seated person and establish standards to work with, such as:

1. Average height of a person seated.

2. Average eye level. (see Figure #1)

Next we must consider the area to be viewed. For the illegitimate" theatre it is the stage; for the motion picture theatre, the screen. With the growth of motion pictures it became apparent that the factors of design for these separate fields of entertainment had to be approached differently. The depth of the illegitimate" theatre is limith by many factors, principally voice coverage, and the ability to see stage action in detail from the last row. There seems to be no limit to depth of the motion picture theatre as there no longer is any problem in voice or sound reproduction, and close-ups can be enlarged three or four

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 355