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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 109 (89)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 109
Page 109

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 109

The Lamell'a Timber Roof

The Natural Merits of Wood are Complemented by Safety and Eye-Appeal Thru Interlaced Timbers

BRIEF: Ever since man. forsook the natural covering afforded by caves, he has experimented with new types of roofs . . . While other materials have been used extensively for shelter, wood has remained a select favorite . . . for it is easy to erect, inexpensive, and durable . . . Whatever type of serviceable structure is required . . . wood is usually always able to step proudly up to fill the part.

The pressing need for structures with open, unobstructed floor space . . . in industry and other fields . . . has not found wood a slacker . . . The laminated wood arch has already proven its worth in meeting this demand . . . and now another offspring of wood . . . the lamella roof . . . has sprung forward to take its rightful place among the champions of structural devices . . . Self-supporting, decorative, and safe . . . it has already shown itself to be a choice building construction medium for edifices of all types . . . including theatres.

It is the intent of the following article to discuss briefly and analyse the origins, principles, and notable features of the lamella roof . . . and to submit it to the theatre architect, builder or owner for his judgment and . . . we are confident . . . his wink of approval also.


The technological advances made in production techniques since the glowing dawn of the Industrial Revolution have brought prominently to the fore the need for large, unobstructed door areas where assembly lines, conveyors, and other mechanical conveniences can operate to maximum advantage. Pillars of any size, of course, prevent the use of such modern methods, so keen attention in recent years has been given to the overhead structure of large, open areas, where it is possible for both men and machines to move about freely without the hindrance of roof-supporting impediments of any sort.

At the same time, there has been a demand for clear floor space from other fields of human endeavor, such as social, recreational, and transportation activities. Indeed, the need for roof spans supported only at the walls has spread out in a fashion similar to that of an octopus to encompass auditoriums, garages, gymnasiums, skating rinks, armories, and recreation halls, wharf and pier structures, airplane hangars, large barns, and a veritable plethora of other types of buildings.

The motion picture theatre in recent years has also been included in the array of buildings which have come to appreciate and utilize the advantages of a roof span supported without the necesIity for floor pillars. The editors of


THEATRE CATALOG have faithfully traced the course of this trend throughout the years. The quonset arch, as a theatre structural method, was introduced and fully discussed in the Fifth (194647) Annual Edition, while the laminated wood arch method was analyzed in the Fourth (1945-46). The progressively successful applications of these two media in new theatre structures were recorded in all later editions. Our attention is drawn this year to still another construction technique-the lamella roof. This unique device, first introduced by an alert theatre architect on the West Coast, is presented here for study and judgment by others concerned with the physical problems of the theatre.


Lamella roof construction was invented in Europe in the year 1908 and made its United States debut in 1925. Since the time of its introduction, it has been quite extensively employed in a variety of buildings, particularly in areas where its possibilities have been drawn to the attention of progressive-minded architects

and engineers. The clear, uninterrupted span it aifords from side to side of an inclosure, together with its other advantages, has met with enthusiastic acclaim on the part of those who have used it.

As far as the theatre field is concerned, the West has witnessed the greatest use of lamella roof structures. The noted architect, S. Charles Lee, has designed a number of theatres employing this type of roof structure. Thus far, progress of the lamella roof in the East has been halted to a large extent by stringent state building codes which demand the use of steel-supported roofs in theatres seating over 500 persons. Since roof restrictions on theatres of less than 500seat capacity are much more lenient if proper walls or open space separate the house from adjacent buildings, the lamella roof may well come more into its own in this segment of the industry. In time to come, since some Eastern states have approved quonset-type construction for theatres seating over 500, present regulations may be eased up to permit larger structures of the lamella type.

LAMELLA TRUSSLESS ROOFS are arch structures consisting of a series of short seclionslurranged- in diamond pattern to form cx continuous arch. Their unique design follows accepted engineering practice.

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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 109