Seating and Sightline Analysis

The room geometry, number of balconies, seating layout, and sightline quality are all interrelated and have to be conceived of as a whole.

FDA has developed its own proprietary software (Extreme Sightlines©) to speed the process of studying sightlines in three dimensions.

One of the most important criteria FDA considers when developing initial design concepts for a performance space are sightlines – the views to the stage. The room geometry, number of balconies, seating layout, and sightline quality are all interrelated and have to be conceived of as a whole.

Software and New Technology

Over the past 20 years FDA has developed exceptionally sophisticated proprietary software tools to speed the development process and facilitate collaboration with Architects, Acousticians and Owners. We call this software Extreme Sightlines©, because it considers views from the most extreme seats off to the side, as well as from the center of the room. Extreme Sightlines© combines a powerful numerical engine and couples it directly to digital drafting tools . Based on detailed sightline criteria, acoustical considerations, and code parameters, the software outputs 2D drawings or 3D models in real time, allowing dozens of alternatives to be considered during the course of a meeting with our collaborators.

We can manipulate various parameters, such as:

  • Adding or subtracting rows
  • Changing row depths
  • Changing the number of balconies
  • Changing the radius of any balcony
  • Moving those balconies in relation to the stage and to each other
  • Changing the depth of the orchestra pit
  • Changing the room width
  • Raising or lowering the proscenium height or changing its width
  • Modifying acoustical criteria, such as balcony overhang and aperture

These manipulations can be made easily, with the software maintaining applicable code compliance. This tool – unique in the industry – has greatly increased the speed at which initial room concepts and geometries can be explored and agreed upon for further development by a design team.

Three Dimensional Computer Modeling

FDA also uses 3D computer models to evaluate sightlines and manipulate room geometry. The powerful software tools we have developed allow us to transform a few basic sightline parameters directly into a 3D model with just a few clicks of the mouse. Additional software tools then allow us to “sit” in the virtual seats we have created and look around the room. This technique allows us to identify and fix potential problems as well as giving the design team a firsthand look inside the new theater.

Multiple iterations of the model using different parameters can be generated quickly and efficiently. This helps the design team and the owner easily visualize the various options under discussion and helps make informed decisions quickly.

Since 2013, immersive visualization has been a part of our design process. Visit Virtual and Augmented Reality Services to learn more about how we use VR and AR technologies to give our collaborators, and our clients and their donors, a more visceral sense of the spaces we are designing.

Some clients have used our 3D models and immersive experiences as a basis for fund-raising, marketing, and ticket sales systems, allowing patrons or donors to see the views from their seat well before the first shovelful of dirt has been overturned.

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