NewYork/CURBED: How's the air in your theatre?

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
As students jostle into school buildings and Broadway theaters shudder back to life, the most obvious signs of a new hygienic alertness will be masks and vaccination cards. But we also have an invisible vector of anxiety. Outdoors, the air dissipates pathogens; indoors, it can pass them around. Fortunately, we have the technology to cleanse the air as it goes swirling through cafeterias, lobbies, and other crowded spaces. The problem is that the public can only guess how well the machinery is doing its job. Is that a teacher’s monotone making you drowsy or the buildup of your classmates’ carbon dioxide? Is a frosty room the sign of an efficient HVAC system or a hint that it’s recycling already-cooled air? Do we need to worry that the products of an intermission coughing fit may linger through the finale?

 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
"Standards are low and meeting them is effectively optional."

"...no one has set firm ventilation targets.”

This article factually misrepresents the state of things and makes it sound like mechanical systems design is done on a whim. There absolutely are codes and standards in place.

Facilities with deferred or completely ignored maintenance may be an issue, and there’s some validity in routine testing of IAQ (indoor air quality) for systems that are not already equipped to monitor that, but it’s a little bit much to suggest standards are “low and effectively optional.”
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Werll, see, Mike, that's what *I* thought too. But (unlike my best friend) I have no ASHRAE certs. So I figured it would be good if the pros knew what was being bandied about...
 

TheaterEd

Renaissance Man
Fight Leukemia
My air is so fresh that when they grill out on the dock I get smoke onstage.... Had a minor freak out when we discovered this little 'quirk' and immediately made the space under the air intake a 'no grill zone'. Turns out, some parents working for the Gym's concession stand had not been informed about how far away from a building one should be when one grills...
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
My air is so fresh that when they grill out on the dock I get smoke onstage.... Had a minor freak out when we discovered this little 'quirk' and immediately made the space under the air intake a 'no grill zone'. Turns out, some parents working for the Gym's concession stand had not been informed about how far away from a building one should be when one grills...
In 1973, our 2,183 seat soft-seater's loading docks were designed so trailers backed under a 2nd floor mechanical room for weather protection leaving their cabs in open air with their exhaust stacks directly in front of the theatre's main air intakes. Workable during summer weather when drivers would shut down to save fuel but nauseatingly noxious during winter when their drivers would let them idle.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

macsound

Well-Known Member
Truly, most of these huge theatres were designed ages ago and renovated only slightly more recently than ages ago. What may have been code in the 80s coupled with poor maintenance and "alterations" made by local handymen who were employed by designers annoyed with the airflow direction or amount during a supposed hazy graveyard scene leaves us with the equivalent of giant spaces that are either ice boxes or sweatshops.

Working in spaces that have budget restrictions also impact ventilation. If the theatre doesn't want to spend money on student preview, blue hair, or rehearsal days, they may not turn the HVAC on at all.
 

bobgaggle

Well-Known Member
And here I am sitting in a shop with no ventilation but what we can create with wedged open doors and fans. Yet somehow we survive...
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
And here I am sitting in a shop with no ventilation but what we can create with wedged open doors and fans. Yet somehow we survive...
While attending college in the 1930's, a British friend's brother worked every summer in a fine furniture factory where the haze of finely sanded hardwood was always in the air. Later in life he became a draftsman in the paper, pencils, set squares, T-square, and erasing shield days.

Still drawing and supporting his family in his 60's, he was diagnosed with cancer in an upper nasal passage and informed surgeons would need to remove an eye to excise the tumor; they could remove either eye, which did he want to lose? He chose to sacrifice his left eye and that was the end of his drafting, depth perception, and driving. You say you're surviving but you've no guarantee damage from the air you're breathing won't negatively affect your health and livelihood decades later.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

bobgaggle

Well-Known Member
While attending college in the 1930's, a British friend's brother worked every summer in a fine furniture factory where the haze of finely sanded hardwood was always in the air. Later in life he became a draftsman in the paper, pencils, set squares, T-square, and erasing shield days.

Still drawing and supporting his family in his 60's, he was diagnosed with cancer in an upper nasal passage and informed surgeons would need to remove an eye to excise the tumor; they could remove either eye, which did he want to lose? He chose to sacrifice his left eye and that was the end of his drafting, depth perception, and driving. You say you're surviving but you've no guarantee damage from the air you're breathing won't negatively affect your health and livelihood decades later.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Don't get me wrong, I'd love having some air forced through here. Even better if its cooled air.
 

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