December, 2017 Issue

From the Chair...




St. Olaf College Temporary TD


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From the Chair

by Corey Shelsta, NBS Section Chairperson

Todd       I got to sign my name on an I-beam a couple weeks ago.  That was really cool.  And no, not the old school moving mirror lighting fixture – an actual structural I-beam going into our new building.  What’s so special about that?  Well this beam is 42’ long, weighs 15 tons and is now at the top of the proscenium opening about 53’ up.  Starting this week it will have around 80 tons of precast concrete stacked on top of it that will form part of the fly tower.  No one will ever see my name up there, but I know it’s there.  Signatures
    We have been in the middle of a construction zone for a little over 6 months as our new building goes up around the existing one.  I have written about this a couple of times before, but it seems like new things are always popping up.  The building shell is almost done on one side, and well underway on the other.  So we are getting into the phase where we are getting one last check of all the stuff that goes into it.
    We have great consultants and contractors, an outstanding general contractor, and a really detail oriented campus engineer looking over all Beam In Placethe drawings that are coming in.  I am fortunate to be included in the loop and get all of the drawings that are related to the systems in the performance venues.  I suppose they figure one more set of eyes from the guy who has to make the building work for years to come is not a bad thing.  I have spent a lot of time over the last few months staring at drawings. 
    There are drawings of the theatre rigging.  There are drawings of the audio, video and projection systems.  There are drawings of the lighting systems.  There are drawings of motorized acoustical panels.  There are drawings of the layers of the stage floor.  There are drawings of the steel structure of the catwalks.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  And all of these drawings are coming from different subcontractors.  So we reference and cross reference and recheck dozens, if not hundreds of pages.  Looks like there is an air duct in the way of a curtain on the stage right gallery.  Are the pipes on the back of the second catwalk BeamOnFloorspaced far enough apart so we can hang unused instruments on them?  How exactly is this chandelier supposed to move up and down?
    The point I am trying to make here is this – no matter what your specialty or interest in theatre, someday you might be asked to assist with a project like this.  Every bit of knowledge I have gained in 30+ years of working in theatres is being put to the test as we do this.   Our experience as theatre designers and technicians is valuable and can be a great asset if you are involved in construction or renovation of a theatre space.  Be vocal about it – if there is something you want in “your” theatre, make it known.  If there are mistakes, make sure to point them out.  Early in the process.  Work with your consultants to make sure they know what you want and be sure to listen to their advice.  If there are things you don’t understand, ask questions.  There are many things that those of us who work in these spaces day in and day out know and understand that architects and engineers may not.
    Alright, enough of my rambling.  And as I am finishing this, quite ironically, a PDF drawing of some glowing acrylic panels that will be part of the house light system have appeared in my inbox.  Time to get back to work.  Good luck to our student members on your final exams this semester.  Happy Holidays to all of you!  See you in Ft. Lauderdale in March! [ ]