ADA Access to Catwalks in New Construction

mwasser

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Location
Worcester, MA
The college I'm working at is in the process of planning and building a new performing arts center, and I wondered if anyone had any info about how handicap accessibility applies to catwalks in an educational setting. The control booths are all planned to be accessible, but some of the catwalks can only be reached by ladders. Does anyone have any info? I know that professionally, these areas would be exempt from the relevant ADA requirement, but I believe that doesn't apply in a school. And then, if ADA is required, does that extend to something like the loading gallery in a flyloft?
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Your theatre consultant should know this and be able to guide you. If there is not a professional theatre consultant involved in the planning, I'm sorry for you. You'll be frequent visitor here.

Loading bridges, gridirons, lighting catwalks, are all generally considered equipment platforms and are not required to be accessible by national codes. What someone dos locally is hard to say. Here's the exception from the International Building Code, more likely to be enforced than ADA, and generally harmonized with ADA guidelines.

1103.2.9 Equipment spaces. Spaces frequented only by
service personnel for maintenance, repair or occasional
monitoring of equipment are not required to comply with
this chapter.

I've never had this questioned on any of my work.

Orchestra pits, control rooms, box offices, etc. are not exempt. And enclosed, finished follow spot booth probably has to be accessible. A wide space on a catwalk that happens to be for a follow spot not so.
 

mwasser

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Location
Worcester, MA
Thanks! That's exactly what I wanted perspective on - and it does line up with the plans. I know that there were theatre consultants involved, but the design has been shelved since before I started work, and seems hit-and-miss. Part of my job is to flag potential issues, so I'm trying to get caught up and figure out which threads to pull on as quickly as I can.

Some areas look brilliantly planned out (AV systems seem nearly perfect), and some need a conversation or two (2 of the 3 venues have DMX relays instead of dimmers). That makes me feel pretty confident as far as access is concerned. I certainly anticipate being around here pretty often
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
I do indeed include 4 or 6 or some number of solo dimmer - like the ETC ES750 or Strand Light Pack (nee: Bak Pak). As often as I can get away with it - budget - I include a transmitter and few receivers for wireless dmx as well. Often there is some legacy equipment - newer Source 4's and such - and then if more than a few I include a few extra circuits and usually a solo dimmer for each unit or close to that. Power and data.

I did include a half of a Senor rack and FOH distro for a community college where training for entertainment technology is goal and it seemed like a good training tool to have some conventional in the space.
 
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Chase P.

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Feb 3, 2017
Location
San Francisco
If there is not a professional theatre consultant involved in the planning, I'm sorry for you. You'll be frequent visitor here.
Very true, they’re important. But hopefully your administration won’t get bullied into pretty over functional by the architect like a certain place I work at...

They overrode the suggestions of the consultant, and admin let them do it, on multiple issues. Makes for a really hard space to work in, and makes for some expensive crew calls on every show to work around the issues.
 
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BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Very true, they’re important. But hopefully your administration won’t get bullied into pretty over functional by the architect like a certain place I work at...

They overrode the suggestions of the consultant, and admin let them do it, on multiple issues. Makes for a really hard space to work in, and makes for some expensive crew calls on every show to work around the issues.
Was it a professional consultant or was it a contractor or sales person? The word "suggestion" gave me pause.
 

Chase P.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Location
San Francisco
Professionals, all around. I blame administration for getting bullied into form over function.

I suppose that sounds worse than it probably was. I don't know how much the architect pushed for "form", and admin probably had a bad case of the "new building overwhelmings", so they weren't thinking about how those changes would affect things down the road. Bottom line, there were architects, theater consultants, and clients; the clients ultimately didn't get a great product. It may have been their own ignorance about their needs, but the consultant could and should have helped push them towards a successful solution. I also don't know whether the consultant was hired by the theater or the architect. I can see that making an enormous difference.
 
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