An innovative Landscape Interior metal fabric solution from Cambridge Architectural of Cambridge, MD, dramatically defines and separates space within the Theatre for the Performing Arts at the new Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
The newly renovated theater, formerly the Aladdin Center for the Performing Arts, is designed to house Broadway-style shows for extended runs. Cambridge Architectural’s innovative mesh application provides “house reduction” in order to produce more intimate seating for smaller crowds. Retractable panels of metal fabric allow larger areas of the theatre to be reconfigured to suit the space requirements of an event. Specifically, the metal fabric application allows the 7,500-seat theatre to be effectively reduced to seating for 2,800 through the use of glistening mesh partitions that carve out interior space.
“The former theatre was 30 years old and needed to have the flexibility to be used in several size configurations to maintain its viability,” explains Lendall Mains, architect, Lendall Mains Architect, Las Vegas, NV. “The new functionality and unique look of the mesh panels helped create an effective method of house reduction that revived a tired building for use in an ever-changing Las Vegas market.”
“This project was a perfect demonstration of our ability to solve unique problems with architectural mesh,” explains Heather Collins, director of marketing for Cambridge Architectural. “There were three important design considerations for this project aside from a striking visual appearance. The customer required acoustic transparency so that the finely tuned theater acoustics were not affected, the system had to be easy to operate with a minimum of training and, since there is little storage space, the screens needed to be self-contained. The mesh panels were also to be wash-lighted with RGB LED’s and with projection from the stage. The system provides transparency while still offering a visual division of the space.”
In addition to aesthetics, the metal fabric application maintains many functional benefits, one of which is fire resistance. Traditional fabric curtains could not be used for the theatre due to fire code issues. The woven stainless steel mesh application solved this problem.
“We have more than 25 years of venue experience, so we know that curtaining off a wall doesn’t work,” said Denise Perry, Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Development for BASE Entertainment, which operates the facility. “Cambridge provided a material that worked very well for this purpose.”
The custom Space Sculpting mesh solution is comprised of 23,000 sq. ft. of flexible metal fabric in Cambridge’s Scale and Mid-Balance patterns. The two types of woven metal mesh were attached using Cambridge’s ReeleaseTM attachment method, designed specifically by Cambridge engineers for this project as a solution for raising and lowering the metal fabric panels at the touch of a button. A concealed, overhead-mounted, motorized reel both unreels the metal fabric downward and retracts it upward for hidden storage.
When deployed, the metal fabric partitions are secured at the floor by small magnets concealed in steel handrails.
As a demonstration of the versatility of designing with metal fabric, Cambridge’s Scale pattern, featuring 62% open area, was specified in the upper panels to facilitate ventilation.
“We needed a material that was acoustically transparent and provided airflow, but also had a solid appearance,” said Georgina Sperber, design architect, M&J Architects, which specializes in the performing arts. “Cambridge’s mesh fit the bill.”
Mid-Balance was chosen for the remainder of the metal fabric screens because the tighter, 52% open area of the mesh is more receptive to wash lighting and projection, as color-changing LED lights are used to illuminate the metal fabric.
A total of 40 screen units were fabricated, varying in width from 10 ft. to 12 ft., and in lengths from 13 ft. to 68 ft. Cambridge performed all of the system design and fabrication, including a touch-screen control system.
“This was certainly a complex undertaking, and Cambridge brought the research and ingenuity that was required for the implementation of this new system,” continues Mains.
“Planet Hollywood is a great example of a custom house reduction design that has become an integral part of our product offering,” says Collins. “This new method of house reduction is a perfect solution for any theatre that needs flexibility to attract and accommodate different types of acts and their audiences. Cambridge’s Reelease attachment system and corresponding metal fabric patterns make this possible.”
Lendall Mains Architect, Las Vegas, NV served as architect, while Martinez & Johnson Architecture, Washington, DC, served as design architect. The general contractor was HOWA Construction, Salt Lake City, UT, and the installer was Reliable Steel, Inc., North Las Vegas, NV. The operator of the theatre is BASE Entertainment, New York, NY.
The Planet Hollywood Theatre for the Performing Arts was completed in the spring of 2007.
The new theatre is a rare mid-sized venue in the Las Vegas market, fitting between the larger concert arenas that seat more than 10,000 and the smaller showrooms that seat fewer than 1,200. It is the largest theater of its kind in the United States.
“In such a large space, the use of architectural mesh allows us to have three or more configurations in the room,” explains Denise Perry.
Cambridge Architectural’s Space Sculpting applications maintain the ability to carve out space while providing visibility, light and air flow. The aesthetic flexibility of Cambridge Architectural solutions allows for creative architecture that responds to the architect’s imagination.
“We love Cambridge. They have been contributing to every phase of the project,” adds Perry.
In addition to Space Sculpting for house reduction purposes, Reelease is also an excellent option for many additional interior and exterior mesh applications. Cambridge’s flexible, open metal fabric patterns such as Scale, Mid-Balance, Shade and Slink are elegant choices for Reelease.
Cambridge maintains a fully-staffed engineering department to assist with installation details, framing design and load characteristics, and also supervises on-site installation.
“We were very happy with the installation. Cambridge put an unbelievable amount of work into this system,” Sperber concluded.