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Jack Muffoletto

Preserve Your Cinema with an FEC Conversion

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by Jack Muffoletto, Sr. Principal

August, 4th 2023

What’s Happened

The last round of cinema transformations revolved around the experience. Many customers took the position that the in-home technology available allowed them to re-create cinema picture and sound in the convenience of their home with the familiarity off their comfy chair.

Exhibition responded:

  • Branded Premium Large Format auditoriums with giant screens unachievable at home
  • 3D immersive sound
  • Power reclining seats for comfort
  • Multiple choices to view movies:
  • PLF
  • Screen X
  • 4DX, D-Box, MX4D
  • VIP
  • Dine-in
  • Groups

Since Then

The pandemic caused the cinema industry to halt due to disrupted film production and the shutdown of exhibition.
Furthermore, known threats to the industry worsened. The options to stream film at home have become wider and easier. The theatrical ‘window’ discussion intensified to the point of eliminating it completely.

Over the years exhibitors have become accustomed to threats, so some self-examination was warranted. Questions to be answered:

  • How can we diversify revenue sources beyond Hollywood and become less dependent on them?
  • Are there too many screens for the content being released?
  • How can we generate higher revenue from under-utilized space?

What’s Next

The cinema business model as we know it could become obsolete. Cinema is not going away it is just evolving into something new. Entertainment Centers are quickly becoming the next big thing. Consider an FEC where cinema is a key attraction alongside bowling, arcade / redemption, axe throwing, laser tag, etc. Diverse revenue streams are established for year-round, all-day business.

  • Stay longer
  • Adult focus AND family focus
  • Gaming, competition focus
  • Competitive Socializing
  • Even more F&B! Many existing cinema properties already have the F&B infrastructure

Challenges / Opportunities you run into…

Existing cinema facilities come in all shapes and sizes and markets dictate attractions, ROI, construction cost, etc. However, there are some things you can always count on:


  • Square footage and volume available
  • Toilet rooms in place
  • Potential for exterior yard space

Structural Considerations

  • Demising Walls
    • i. Many demising walls are non-load bearing metal stud and gypsum board walls with a few structural steel columns. In these cases, very large openings can be made or the entire wall can be removed.
    • ii. If a demising wall is structural, or made of concrete block for example, deliberate, small linteled openings for visibility can be made
  • Stadium Seating
    • i. Built up stadium seating is mostly non-load bearing metal studs, geofoam or steel stringers and can be removed completely
    • ii. Multiple floor elevations below grade can be leveled with geofoam and concrete
  • Projection booth mezzanine can remain or can be repurposed

Design and Construction Decisions

The facility is an Assembly Occupancy, and therefore we are dealing with the movement of large groups of people. The design solution will be based on your specific market, existing conditions and:

  • Customer Circulation
    • Safe exiting
    • Minimal crossover
    • Accessibility for customers with disabilities
  • Staff Circulation
    • Labor consolidation

  • Phased Construction
    • Stay open
    • Consider sarting with converting a small auditorium
      • You can visualize how closing an auditorium (or 2 or 3) will not be cause for business stoppage
    • Consider expanded F&B which is a high revenue generator
      • Bar
      • Kitchen
      • Seating
      • Adjacency to existing kitchen utilities
    • Consider arcade games and redemption which are a high revenue generator
    • Create gathering space

  • FFE for attractions
  • Equipment for kitchen and bar
    • Utility connections
  • Phased investment
    • New phase after ROI achieved

Movie going habits have changed and cinemas are changing in response. Streaming movies has been a failure and there is a full flow of wide releases this year. The writer’s and actor’s strikes could impact movie going down the road. Now is the time to consider converting your facility to preserve and increase your revenue, and to combat future threats to exhibition.

Jack Muffoletto, Sr. Principal

Workload and the Workplace

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by Jack Muffoletto, Sr. Principal

October 10, 2022

We have been seeing a rise in demand for renovation and conversion work.  There is a fair amount of new construction work but the discussions about re-thinking existing buildings and spaces represents a sizable share of our current workload.  New construction is getting more expensive every day, and lead times for material and equipment are causing scheduling nightmares.  Most challenging about schedules is that they are stretched out causing more expense and a longer wait time for revenue to start

Additionally, it is no secret that a lot of existing real estate is being repositioned due to the rise of remote work.  With more people settling in and figuring out how to work from home, it is natural to deduct that there is less demand for office space.  The lingering impact on getting people to return to workplaces is being driven by new thinking.  In our entertainment field of design, we are seeing a trend toward massive mixed-use expansion including office, retail, restaurant, entertainment, gym, parking, residential and outdoor space.  Mixes of these components based on market and demographics can give top to bottom new life to existing buildings, spaces and developments.  The savings from material re-use and the need for less supplies is desirable when you start a project with an exterior shell and a site that is already developed.  Part of the concept is to have less closed off or separated and individual uses and more openness and free flowing circulation between uses.  Revenue generating specialty nodes help to connect and transition between spaces.  Bars and cafes create energy, and seating areas allow people to use Wi-Fi and socialize.  Then add in retail pop-ups, cultural programming like art and entertainment components like micro cinema, duck pin bowling, axe throwing or arcade.  As I think about the workplace there needs to be amenities, technology and a way to optimize collaboration which promotes culture and a sense of belonging.

Office becomes more valuable when it is a mixed-use component and everything is in the same building.  Mixed-use as a building category has evolved with more of a lifestyle/entertainment emphasis.  Our workload has progressed to creating ‘human experience centers’.

As designers it is exciting to be involved in rethinking the future and how we live, work and play together.  Stay tuned, big things are coming your way soon!

Real Men Wear PINK!

Breast cancer affects everyone – it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.  I have been, and will wear pink everyday of October to raise awareness for and money for breast cancer. By raising money and awareness through Real Men Wear Pink, I’m helping to save more lives from breast cancer.

Every day, the American Cancer Society is saving more lives from breast cancer than ever before. They’re helping people take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer or find it early, when it’s easier to treat. They provide free information and services when and where people need it, fund groundbreaking research and they’re working to ensure access to exams and treatment for those who need them.

What I Promise to do

Wear something pink everyday in October, and love it! Follow my fund raising progress and click to donate at the Real men Wear Pink website. My goal is $2,500.

Have more questions, want to share your pink outfit? Share it with us on our socials! Or email me at jmuffoletto@tkarch.com .

Jack Muffoletto, Sr. Principal

Wayfinding… how to get from Pandemic to Design

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MAY 24, 2021 Sr. Principal Jack Muffoletto

This pandemic has felt like a vice with constant pressure coming from so many directions…. Business decisions including employees and rent… keeping people safe… remote working… remote learning….
It feels like as soon as one issue is worked out, the situation changes and we are back to square 1.
Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, maybe do yoga… or, what about creating something from nothing with good design.

In our business, there is always the need to create an experience to bring customers back. We are living in a time where a lot of us are experiencing new things as we work our way through these tough times and ‘getting back’ is something that we all have been waiting for. Some of us are just looking for a sense of direction. We are hoping we can provide a little direction. In today’s blog, we are talking about Signage and Wayfinding.  Most of our projects rely on a strong emphasis on graphics to enhance the guest experience.

Regal Cinemas Stadium 16, community inspired ‘mountain silhouette’ auditorium entry signage.

The goal is to impact the experience beyond just the functional aspects of the customer journey. For example, to engage the customer, we might think about connecting the client brand with the community that the facility exists in.  There could also be the idea of visually telling a story of a place through murals, wall graphics, art, wall hangings, sculpture, etc. This gesture works to foster the project as an important part of the community.  In fact, oftentimes it is an opportunity to uncover stories of a community that can be expressed and celebrated.

Regal West Oaks concession Mural in the Energy corridor of Houston.

The graphics and interior design should always support the overall design narrative of a project. Visual elements are strategically placed to immerse customers providing a visual cue that could be welcoming, directional, or even a selfie opportunity!

New technologies are available to assist the designer. Monitors can effectively be programmed for any function: wayfinding, ads, menus, etc. We realize clients want the flexibility to keep up with changes and this is particularly true when dealing with complex buildings and large groups of customers that need signage, and wayfinding.  Monitors can do this. The use of digital technology allows us to provide real-time information. Also, apps are available to inform the customer. After all, the mobile phone is everyone’s connection to the environment.

Digital content boards, Marcus Ypsilanti

Other tools are available to create a unique and memorable experience like storytelling. Consider what makes up the personality of the destination, like stories of the community, the owner, the history of the building…. What makes it special?  What is the personality of the destination?  Is it simple and memorable? …Is it timeless, a gateway, diverse, a landmark?  Every destination has a story and every story has a destination. Every destination, like people, is unique and different from one to the next.

The designer’s assignment is to provide our clients a clear understanding of the intended overall design experience of being in a specific environment and navigating that environment.  How do we translate a vision and concept into an environment? 

Core to the design process, we may start with one or several brainstorming methods like words and phrases, hand sketching, sticky notes, trace paper, white board, inspirational photos, etc.  To visualize initial ideas and to advance/eliminate good and bad ideas, we progress to preliminary plans and elevations that communicate scale and adjacencies.  A key detail or motif may be developed that is repeated.  A ceiling or light fixture, material, or any other element may become a feature.  The progression evolves to 3D modeling to study form, proportion and color.  Ultimately, realistic renderings are developed to help our clients understand the experience of the space.

Premium Conceptual Rendering

In general, people thrive on the social interaction that public spaces create. We fully expect people to be eager to be together again, out in a thriving public realm.  When they return signage and wayfinding will be the tour guide to their experience.

Trends for signage and wayfinding we expect to see include timeless, rather than trendy solutions. For that reason, we see the use of proven traditional materials like stained woods, natural stone, luxury vinyl, painted metals, brick, tile, etc., and pure geometries as a foundation of our design.  Traditional materials come in a variety of textures and tend to be more durable and have an attractive appearance.  Technology will continue to play a vital role.  AI and AR will continue to be more integrated.  But the basis of our focus relies on the integration of function, art, storytelling, placemaking, color, materials, lighting, etc. to bring people together, logically move them through designed space and elevate the human experience.

I can be grumpy when I am tired, stressed, hungry, and when things don’t go my way.  But there’s something inspirational about a good song, a stunning photo of nature, or a solid, well-thought-out design that pleases a client and provides a reset amid the stresses of the day, even if only for that one moment of pleasing interaction.

Couldn’t we all use a little more of that in our lives?

Sr. Principal Jack Muffoletto

COVID, Design, and Father’s Day

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COVID, Design, and Father’s Day


We are now back to work in our office and abiding by CDC guidelines and local governmental declarations. Our workstation layout is already naturally spread out for the 6’-0” social distancing recommendation. Certain rooms get new rules like conference rooms and the kitchen for limited amounts of people, masks, hand sanitizer, and distancing. Our challenge is that we encourage a tight-knit culture built on face to face collaboration. This causes a disruption of the status quo of how an architectural / engineering firm functions. Fortunately, we have elements in place for virtual collaboration; fast internet and cloud-based platforms. The cloud-based tools are real-time collaboration tools where users can add comments and annotations. We rely less on printed drawings and instead can perform digitized sketch design for sharing both in the office and virtually. In all, we have leveraged our technology to work differently and safely.


To help our clients, it is our job to manipulate designs to make the paying customers feel safe and welcome. In these times, the customer’s comfort level extends beyond what is visual. Because of this, the clients are forced to put new programs in place. Technology seems to be the leading charge with more reliance on mobile phones, contactless motion-activated sensors, and the like. As architects, we are committed to safety without sacrificing the experience. For example, how do we adopt technology along with social distancing practices that don’t feel forced? How do we maintain spacing concerns without making people feel isolated or as if they aren’t allowed to have human-to-human contact?

On that note, after a late breakfast on Father’s Day, we packed coolers and went to the neighborhood pool to enjoy the day. When we got to our socially distanced lounge chairs it was like being in a different world, yet a world that was vaguely familiar. Children playing, people drinking, eating, and laughing. It was a wonderful day. But more than that, it confirmed something I have believed during this entire pandemic. The world is not going to change as much as some people think. People want to go out to eat, socialize in bars, travel, conduct business, seek out experiences, etc. In fact, many people will do this the first chance they get. It is such an important part of who we are. The memories we make with family. The connections we make with business colleagues. The much needed breaks we crave. People adapt quickly. Some faster than others, but we adapt together. It has been a devasting time for our industry but my Father’s Day outing gave me much hope that recovery is closer than we may think. Let’s hope so.

– Jack Muffoletto

Founded in 1981, TK Architects is a full-service architectural firm that offers all professional design services in-house to simplify and streamline coordination, including: Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Structural Engineering, Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineering. The firm’s focus is entertainment architecture and engineering, including cinema, bowling, bars/lounges, food service and entertainment centers worldwide. TK Architects provides the right services at the right time to meet client’s specific needs, including: New Buildings, Tenant Interiors, Renovations, Facility Upgrades and Maintenance.

For more information about TK Architects please visit www.tkarch.com or contact Jack C. Muffoletto, at jcmuffoletto@tkarch.com


Malco Jonesboro to Open June 2020

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June 15, 2020

The Malco Studio movie theatre at Greensborough Village in Jonesboro, AR is situated at the most prominent intersection of the new 200-acre mixed-use development. Malco Studio is an 8 screen, reserved seating, recliner cinema with a full kitchen, and at-your-seat service. It will become the anchor entertainment attraction among creative restauranteurs, boutique shops, other niche retail, and multiple residential units.

The cinema has been designed to meet the needs of an entertainment and shopping experience, unlike anything Jonesboro has ever seen. It’s what the market has been asking for.

Founded in 1981, TK Architects is a full-service architectural firm that offers all professional design services in-house to simplify and streamline coordination, including: Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Structural Engineering, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineering. The firm’s focus is entertainment architecture and engineering, including cinema, bowling, bars/lounges, food service, and entertainment centers worldwide. TK Architects provides the right services at the right time to meet client’s specific needs, including: New Buildings, Tenant Interiors, Renovations, Facility Upgrades, and Maintenance.

For more information about TK Architects please visit www.tkarch.com or contact Jack C. Muffoletto, at jcmuffoletto@tkarch.com