Kentucky centre solves issues with J. R. Clancy

Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Kentucky centre solves issues with J. R. ClancyThe Kentucky Centre for the Performing Arts in Louisville
USA - When The Kentucky Centre for the Performing Arts in Louisville needed to renovate its multi-purpose hall's acoustical system, director of production services Peter Bell had to solve a wide range of rigging challenges.

The heart o the arts centre, the 2,400-seat Whitney Hall presents a year-round range of performances including touring Broadway shows, productions by the Kentucky Opera and the Louisville Ballet, and Louisville Orchestra concerts. To meet the acoustical requirements of so many different groups, Whitney Hall uses custom Wenger Diva shell ceilings, which can be adjusted to improve the sound quality.

In 2009, the Centre's technical staff determined that it was time to stop using the hydraulic hoists that controlled these ceilings. "You get hydraulics over an audience and you get nervous," said Bell. "The mechanics were nearly 30 years old. When they were installed, the system was cutting-edge, the wave of the future. But the cutting edge eventually went a different way."

J.R. Clancy was part of a team headed up by the general contractor, Sullivan & Cozart. "When we came in, everything was dead-hung," said Brett Cooper, Clancy project manager. "We installed 17 line shafts onstage, both for the shell ceilings and for some working line sets for shows." The 17 onstage line shafts include six that can travel at 40ft per minute (fpm), seven at 120 fpm, and four at 200 fpm.

"We installed eight additional line shafts on the front of house side: six to run the acoustical reflector panels(ARPs), and two to run a moving light bridge up and down," Cooper said. "One of the ARPs actually split the proscenium opening, so it had two line shaft connections - one front of house, and one on stage- and they had a system on this panel so that if the fire curtain came down, it would release the ARP. But if they had to use the fire curtain in an emergency, you can see the problems they might have. We pictured this panel swinging from one line."

Cooper worked with Clancy engineer Greg Dale and Wenger Corporation to replace the single panel with two: one over the stage, and one in front of house, each with its own line shaft mechanism. "This absolutely works wonderfully," said Cooper.

To increase the manoeuvrability and effectiveness of two more front-of-house panels, Clancy developed a spring encoder that allows the acoustician to tilt the ARPs to whatever position works best for the performance. "The panels were either always flat or always tipped in one position," said Cooper. "Now they can go up and down on our new line shafts to get the reflectivity they desire."

(Jim Evans)

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