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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 277 (257)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 277
Page 277

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 277

The Existing Theatre

When facades on existing buildings are considered for illumination, it is sometimes difiicult to find physical space for the fioodlights and practical means of getting electrical service to these locations. In most cases, however, these difficulties may be overcome without major changes in the structure. As a general rule, the roof of the marquee, which commonly forms a part of the theatre entrance, is a practical location for the equipment required for the general floodlighting of the facade. Setbacks, niches, cornices, etc., frequently can be used to conceal the fioodlights necessary to emphasize architectural features. Furthermore, ornamental standards along the curb may generally be used to support floodlights without detracting from the overall appearance of the building.

The New Theatre

The new theatre building offers the greatest opportunity for creating an architecture whose dramatic qualities may be set off at night by the beautiful and magnetic effects which only light can produce. The possibilities in this field are limited only by the imagination and ingenuity of the architect and engineer collaborating in the planning stage of the building. Plans must be made to conceal the floodlighting equipment and to locate it where the direction of the light and the light pattern provide the desired effects. Provisions for wiring and convenient servicing must be anticipated.

Unfortunately, the question of exterior lighting comes frequently only as an after-thought, and the problem of providing appropriate illumination becomes a complex one, instead of the relatively simple procedure of planning for the installation of the required equipment in the initial design of the building.

Artistic Approach Needed

The success with which light may be applied to building exteriors to obtain striking and interesting aesthetic effects is best illustrated by the expositions of the past halfscentury. The architects designed these structures with lighting in mind. They selected facing materials only after due consideration of their light-redecting characteristics, and adequate provisions were made for locating, concealing, and servicing the equipment. This forethought resulted in building of fascinating night-time beauty.

The fioodlighting of a building in its broader sense falls within the realm of the art of illumination, rather than the Science of illumination. As far the former is concerned, the end result is an effect that one endeavors to accomplish by means of highlights and shadows, directlon of light, static or changing color, {t0- Ohviously, the science of illuminatlon, which concerns itself with the computation of quantity, efficiency, utiliV ??lti0ns, etc., plays a less important role In achieving these results.

The creation of artistic lighting effects, therefore, requires imagination and origlnality to the same degree that an artist USOS these qualities in painting a pictUI'E. The only real difference is that the mvdium in one case is light, and pigments in the other. Due to this basic kinship to the individuality of artistic


DRAMATIC ACCENT ON ARCHITECTURAL LINES was the dominant motif at the New York World's Fair in 1939 and 1940. Here illustrated is the Italian Court Building where a Hoodlighted central waterfall combined with classic figures and columns to produce a night time effect of great splendor.

method, and, since theatres vary widely in structural style, it is not feasible to formulate Hoodlighting practices applicable to all cases. There are, however, certain fundamental principles which should be followed to insure satisfactory results.

Environs and Facing Materials

Since the primary purpose in iioodlighting a theatre facade is to emphasize its salient architectural features, first consideration must be given to its sur roundings in order to determine the required level of illumination necessary to realize the desired contrast with neighboring buildings. For example, a theatre facing a well-lighted street and surrounded by electric signs and brightly lighted show windows will obviously require a higher level of fioodlighting than one located in a park relatively free of extraneous light. Similarly, a playhouse faced with red brick or darkcolored stone will require a higher level than one faced with light-colored

Table l-Floodlighting Considerations and Precepts

Recommended Recommended Footcandle Walls Levels Per Square Foot


Building Reflection

Surfaces F actors

White Terra Cotta Cream Terra Cotta 60-80% Light Marble

Light-gray Limestone Redford Limestone

Buff Limestone Smooth Buff-face Brick


Briar-hill Sandstone Smooth-gray Brick Medium-gray Limestone 20'400/3 Common Tan Brick

Dark Field-gray Brick Common Red Brick 10-20% Brownstone

15 10 5 2.25 1.5 0.75

20 12 7 3.0 1.8 1.05

25 15 10 3.75 2.25 1.5

30 18 12 4.5 2.7 1.8

A. Buildings on "white ways"; intensive street lighting: streets with many conflicting sins and light sources; and lower portions of buildings falling under Class B locations.

B. Mediumrintensity "white ways"; secondary business streets with few conflicting signs. etc.

C. Very little conflicting light, such as residential streets, parks, lighted highways, etc.


1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 277