It is my premise that anyone, given unlimited time, space, and funds, can build a theater which will work. It is when any of these variables is limited that problems arise. When problems arise then it saves time and money to have an experienced consultant to work with you to provide solutions.
PLANNING: By working with you during the planning of a theater area, operating within your normal framework and in your style as we plan and specify a facility, I save you both time and money. My training and background in educational and professional theater, plus my experience as a theater consultant over the last 30 years, and my twelve years as Chairman of a Performing Arts Department allow me to organize the conflicting elements within a theater facility for you. Resource books give general guide lines, but they do not and can not adjust to specifics of a given project. As you introduce variables into your building design, you inject problems for the contractors and owner / user without realizing it. I identify these problems and resolve the conflicts for you. The experience I have gained from over 300 projects allows me to do this rather quickly.
APPROACH: It has been my practice to approach any project by looking at it from three different viewpoints; first, as an educator concerned with traffic patterns, supervisory capabilities, security, and the total use of the area and its adjacent elements as a laboratory / teaching facility; second, as a custodian who will be responsible for the daily operation and care as well as the minor and major maintenance of the space and its equipment; and third, as a producer / director searching for specific capabilities and facilities for the most reasonable price. In sum, these views will allow us to provide the owner / user with an area offering the greatest potential.
INPUT: Beginning in the earliest initial concept stages of a project, I am able to provide insight and input to all departments which will ultimately allow a smooth construction period; this includes a pre-planned, well organized installation of all of the specialized equipment which goes into even the simplest and least expensive stage areas.
ARCHITECTURAL: For the architectural department I assist in planning space arrangement. Working within the assigned cubic footage, we need to provide the greatest flexibility for future uses, and the most effective efficient layout of the elements. I identify limitations and suggest alternatives as the planning proceeds.
STRUCTURAL: To the structural personnel I submit the requirements of spacing and direction of the members, as well as the type of loads which may be imposed so that the steel originally provided in the area can be most efficiently installed, yet provide for future realignment or additions of equipment as the program in the facility changes.
MECHANICAL: A theater has some strange mechanical requirements, so I need to provide information as to the loads imposed upon the heating and ventilating systems, as well as locating the optimum positions for the runs of pipes and ductwork so that they will not interfere with or limit the uses of the specialized theatrical equipment which will be installed. Of special concern is the location and layout of the feed and distribution for the now-required sprinkler system.
ELECTRICAL: I serve the electrical section best by doing the layout of the special branch circuit wiring and equipment for the theatrical lighting, and identifying the total loads which will be used. Your electrical staff will do the positioning and determine the type of lighting fixtures over the audience area, then I will develop an overall control system to provide the owner with a concept for an efficient total system. For the stage area, I will do complete layouts of the systems - work lights, power distribution, and theatrical lighting, since all must be centrally controlled and synchronized. I will develop specifications for the dimming / control systems as well as for the lighting equipment to provide the greatest number of bidders for the quality of equipment desired.
SPECIFICATIONS: It has been my experience that a bidding / installation / performance specification works best in this area. The specification needs to be detailed in such manner that each bidder sees completely what is required, the installer knows precisely where it is to go, and the owner knows what he is getting, and they all see in total how the items relate to other portions of the project. My own background in design and installation, as well as in maintenance and operation, allows me to do this. I develop specifications for the items of rigging and electrical so that we do not have conflicts during installation. My constant contacts with the primary manufacturers of the equipment with whom we are dealing allow me to keep abreast of developments in the industry. My personal acquaintance with manufacturers also allows me to identify specific individuals within companies should we need information or follow-up during any phase of a project. I maintain contact with and catalogs of over two dozen manufacturers of theatrical equipment and supplies. My specifications are based on the standard items offered by several companies, but at times will carry special items which I have had to design for specific projects. I am continually analyzing the equipment offered in the field and altering specifications as new equipment is brought out or changes in design made. While my specifications for a specific item are usually based on the work of one manufacturer, criteria are established and equals are recognized.
BIDDING: During the bidding process I am available by phone to answer questions on intent or design. I can advise you on the relative acceptability of competing equipment, and you can depend upon my being candid in my appraisal of suppliers and prices offered.
SUBMITTALS: As construction begins, I review the submittals of the equipment for which I wrote the specifications. In this way I can evaluate changes proposed by a supplier as I determine how it will affect the work of other trades and the planned overall uses of the area.
CONSTRUCTION: My first trip to a job site lets me meet the G.C. project superintendent and identify for him the specific areas and items of greatest concern to us. At this time, or at an arranged later meeting, I contact the E.C. job superintendent to assist him in determining the branch circuit conduit runs as well as the main power feed to the area. With his help, we can often make some immediate minor alterations so the job will run more smoothly. With the Mechanical Contractor I will share the concern for precise location, both vertically and horizontally, of his equipment within the area. As field changes are made, I would project their impact on other equipment and trades in the area.
INSPECTIONS & TRAINING: During the construction process I will visit the project site as often as required by the Architect and / or Contractors. Upon completion of the project I expect to make finial inspections for you, then work with the owner to develop a training program as required after the instruction given by the equipment manufacturer - installers.
INSURANCE: I carry Workers Compensation, Employers Liability, Comprehensive business Liability and Medical Insurance. Since I am not a licensed architect or engineer, I cannot obtain the design insurance offered to the licensed professionals.
COST: My fee for services can be determined in the manner which suits you best. Most of my projects today are being billed by the hour. After we determine the extent to which you want me involved on the project, we can set a maximum amount if you desire. In the past, I have worked on the basis of percentage of the installed cost of the equipment which I specify (usually the Theatrical Control and Lighting, Stage Curtains and Rigging). I keep a time sheet and do indicate my time spent on the project with my billing. I bill for time spent (50% of the estimated cost if the project is being done on a set fee) at the time that specifications are delivered to you. Additional billings are done upon accumulation of ten hours work or, on set-fee projects, for 30% when equipment is delivered, the final balance upon final inspection.
WORKING AGREEMENT: While the majority of my projects have been done with a letter of intent between myself and the architect, I have also used the standard A.I.A. Document C-161. I operate under the parameters listed in that document whether we use it or not.
QUESTIONS: If you have any questions, please contact me. I will be pleased to arrange a meeting, to provide detailed answers to specific question, to provide project illustrations, or deliver additional references for your use. I can be reached via phone at 317 / 846-3907 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOTTOM LINE: I believe that I can help you provide your client with a totally planned, efficient, flexible theater which he can use, we can all be proud of, and save you time and money doing it.
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