Insights

Consulting-Specifying Engineer: Designing Sports Arenas, Theaters, and Specialty Structures

Mechanical Engineer Ed Clements joins industry experts in this panel discussion on designing engineering solutions for public specialty structures

What’s the biggest trend you see today in these types of specialty structures?

First and foremost, the trend that I see is focusing on the patron experience. Whether it be occupant comfort, improving sightlines, optimal acoustics, or amenity offerings, the focus is definitely on improving the overall experience for the people filling the seats. Efficiency and sustainability are also major factors, but they are there to augment the overall experience rather than the primary drivers of the projects’ design and construction.

I would definitely anticipate more development in augmented reality and increased incorporation of technology into theater facilities. So much is available at the touch of a button from the comfort of peoples’ homes—the theater has to be able to deliver a unique experience that makes the visit worth the patron’s time and admission.

The largest specialty structure I’ve worked on was United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. HGA was commissioned to design the architecture, structure, and HVAC systems for the building. The sanctuary seats roughly 4,000 patrons, with room enough on the platform for a full orchestra and 100-person choir in the loft. The facility includes a video-production suite—the church simulcasts services to each of the three sanctuaries in the Leawood campus location as well as to sister locations in Kansas City and online. The HVAC systems for the building incorporate energy recovery for ventilation and use displacement ventilation for conditioning of the sanctuary. The existing campus central plant was upgraded to add capacity for the new sanctuary and a narthex, along with provisions for a future addition to the chapel.

Read the complete five-part panel discussion in Consulting-Specifying Engineer.