At the new Phoenix Theatre, patrons can focus on the performance, not the sounds of the building
R.E. Dimond and Associates provided design services for the mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, plumbing, and fire suppression systems at the newly relocated Phoenix Theatre, completed in 2018.
The 21,200-square-foot venue was designed to create a one-of-a-kind experience for theatre patrons. The building is located on the Cultural Trail and contains two performance spaces: a 143-seat proscenium theatre and a configurable black-box theatre. It also includes a dedicated classroom and rehearsal studio, scene shop, costume and prop shop, donor lounge, gallery space, warming kitchen, and dual-use area for concessions and box office services near the main entrance.
- Project Client: Phoenix Theatre
- Location: 705 N Illinois Street, Indianapolis
- Project size: 21,222 SF
- Goal: New construction
Tackling three major challenges for the Phoenix’s tight spaces
There were three challenges in designing the HVAC and electrical systems for the Phoenix Theatre:
- Coordinating utilities on a tight building site,
- Delivering innovative bathroom design for genderless restroom facilities and,
- Meeting lighting, power, aesthetic and acoustic requirements necessary for a modern, flexible performing arts venue.
The project team met the coordination challenges with the City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Fire Department by identifying acceptable locations for delivering utility services for gas, domestic water, power, and fire protection. The building encompasses most of the lot’s footprint, leaving no room around the site for equipment.
Space conditioning and electrical design incorporated energy-efficient systems within the theatre’s tight envelope of precast concrete walls. Design elements were studied via BIM software for coordination with all construction trades, including piping, ductwork, conduits, ceilings, stage sets, and a catwalk. MEP design featured high efficiency, strategically located rooftop units with humidity control, and acoustical treatment that met sound criteria. A VRF system provides energy-efficient heating and cooling for the building’s theatre electronics.
The design was coordinated thru Revit for installation in tight spaces, accommodating elevation changes, ceilings, sets, and catwalks. Because of the lot’s small footprint, space and budget considerations led to the recommendation of ten (10) 7.5 ton rooftop units with VAV cooling and natural gas heating. Minimizing noise was key, so R.E. Dimond and Associates recommended faceted walls to help reduce HVAC noise. A high-efficiency VRF system provides critical zone heating and cooling for the Tech and AV area. The result is a comfortable, quiet space focusing on the theatre’s performances.
Implementing the right technology necessary for a modern performing arts theatre
Innovative electrical, plumbing, and fire suppression design helped provide the technology necessary for Phoenix’s contemporary performances. Important wayfinding lighting helps direct patrons to each theatre and showcase lighting compliments the art gallery. Additional consideration was given to accommodating the Black Box theatre with a light ceiling grid system allowing for multiple stage lighting locations.
In the theatre, because of the high ceiling and ornate sidewall aesthetic, delivery of appropriate emergency lighting can be complicated. This challenge was met by utilizing an emergency central inverter, which allows normal house lights to function in an emergency.
- Occupancy sensors control lighting throughout the building as an energy conservation measure.
- The plumbing design included low-flow fixtures and equipping the stage area with special on-stage water and misting features for theatrical effects that can be drained within the pit below.
- The electrical design team delivered an innovative first-of-its-kind, multi-stall, and inclusive all-gender bathroom design with doors that control X and ß LED lighting elements and indicate stall availability. This design helped to create an equitable and efficient one-line system for public restrooms at the new venue.