Strange as it may sound, the most exciting challenge in theater design isn’t the design of the room per se—it’s fitting whatever the design concept is into a particularly hard-to-tame space. Low ceilings can make the theater look oppressively compressed, very narrow spaces can make it look like a New York City railroad flat, and columns in the wrong places can block the view of the screen. Properly addressed, seeming handicaps like these can actually become opportunities to enhance the design.
A standardized design, like the ones I’ve created for Rayva, can be as difficult as a custom design to adapt to a difficult room—unless you embrace the challenge. That’s exactly what happened twice this month when I had to customize the design of two theaters to fit them into challenging spaces.
Both projects use the “Origami” design theme (shown above) and have Wisdom Audio speaker systems. But each provides a different design challenge: Theater 1 (a project near Phoenix, Arizona) has an unusually high ceiling while Theater 2 (in Westchester County, New York) has windows all around.
Since the design templates for these rooms are inherently flexible, I was able to come up with solutions that both respect the existing room conditions and maintain the look and feel of the design. For Theater 1, adding additional Origami “triangles” to the grid of acoustical panels comfortably filled the room’s 12-foot-high walls.
The windows in Theater 2 will eventually be covered by blackout shades, but their outlines could be distracting, even when covered. The generous width of the room, though, allowed me to add wall segments that define the seating area while blocking the windows, creating a room-within-a-room effect. (See the artist’s rendering above.) This actually enhanced the design by creating a better sense of three-dimensionality in the theater.
I’ve found that being able to rely on a set of standardized, pre-engineered designs that can be customized when needed allows me to be creative in ways I never could when I had to design each new theater from scratch.
Theo Kalomirakis is widely considered the father of home theater, with scores of luxury theater
designs to his credit. He is an avid movie fan, with a collection of over 15,000 discs. Theo is the
Executive Director of Rayva.