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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 30 (xxx)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 30
Page 30

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 30


The Cinema, which is part of the huge Shopper-is World, in Framingham, Massachusetts, is in the opinion of Ben Schlanger, one of the finest theatres ever constructed. As part of the battery of architects and engineers who had a part in the construction of the theatre, Schlanger did most of his work on the auditorium design.

A patron entering the auditorium is immediately attracted to the 25 by 30 foot RCA Synchro-Screen which has been integrated with purely functional design in such a manner, including control of screen light throughout the area of the audience, that a definite physical scheme is offered for the advancement of motion picture exhibition.

The space problem for approximately 1500 seats was given first consideration. It was found that if this total seating capacity were distributed between a main iioor and balcony, sightlines and viewing distance could be best controlled for both good visibility and comfortable seating. The main floor was designed as a dual incline slope, the balcony fioor is relatively low and its stepped incline has a very moderate grade. No excavation was necessary under the theatre, thanks to the dual curve of the main fioor. Twenty-nine rows of standard push-back chairs were spaced 36 inches apart on the main fioor, and nine rows were spaced 38 inches back to back on the balcony. On the main fioor, the first row is 26 feet from the screen, on the balcony the last row is only 126

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feet away. The proportions of the Cinema are ideal for maximum vision. The seating plan, set by Ben Schlanger, is unconventional and informal. Chairs are placed freely in strict reference to screen sightlines; uniformity of aisle widths was not considered important. As a result, rows of chairs are indented in a staggered pattern along the aisles and there are occasional gaps between chairs within rows. The varying widths of the aisles helps to better distribute incoming and outgoing patrons throughout the theatre. Viewing comfort is combined with a feeling of homelike informality.

The next problem was to find a method whereby varied acoustic materials could be used with the utmost freedom without allowing the resulting pattern to disturb the visual unity of the theatre. Walls and ceilings were first treated with a variety of hard or soft materials ranging from resonant plywood to soundabsorbing fibre glass, Next, this carefully studied acoustic treatment was completely concealed behind a finish surface used in theatres for the first time. The designers worked with manufacturers to successfully produce a lightweight perforated metal panel that would permit sound waves to penetrate its surface, at the same time, provide a sturdy and attractive finish. The outer surfaces of walls, balcony front and ceiling are formed of these panels; the acoustic materials beneath function undisturbed.

This new surfacing material proved essential to both lighting and acoustics in the Cinema. It enables the walls and

ceiling of the theatre to act as a light source. During a performance, its sawtoothed surfaces painted light gray, refiect and diffuse light from the screen throughout the theatre. Panel surfaces facing the screen are widest so that light is refiected away from the patrons eyes. This glareleSS illumination is supplemented by a few downlights over the aisles. The screen itself thus becomes the chief source of theatre illumination, and the only fixed element. The wall and ceiling surfaces of the rest of the theatre seem to recede into unlimited space. It is only during intermissions, with the entire lighting system turned on, that the actual proportions of the theatre become apparent. The crimson upholstery of the chairs and the gray and crimson carpet then supply the warmth and color supplied by the screen itself during performances.

The 30 foot screen dominates the entire theatre. There is no distracting black frame around it, no decorative embellishments, no competitive color schemes. It is set in a curved plaster wall whose special surface has the same light value as the screen itself. At the edge of the screen is a band of translucent plastic which helps to merge screen and wall surfaces. During a performance, the motion picture on view is set in a field of light of' its own making, with the character and intensity of that field kept in constant relationship to the action on the screen, This results in an effect of intense realism.

For a detailed story of the Cinema see page 24 of the 1952 edition of THEATRE CATALOG.

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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 30