By David Taylor, TK Architecs International.
Back in Dallas, Texas 1995, one of the most revolutionary theaters was built: The AMC Grand 24. It is widely regarded as the first 24-screen multiplex with stadium seating in the world. The public loved it. Stadium seating was so innovative that it sold to packed crowds and they literally had to bus in patrons into their packed parking lots. Cinema owners across the nation were looking at what AMC had accomplished and, at times, stopped construction on their projects to implement this new style of theater configuration. It was a cinema arms race. The sloped floor style theaters were slowly going out of business to this new theater stadium seating arrangement.
But stadium seating is not a new concept… Although it was relatively new to cinemas in the US, there are examples such as the Colosseum at Piazza del Colosseo in Rome which was built in 80AD. Its use of tiered step arrangement or stadium seating effectively arranged spectators into a great viewing with easy entrance and exit. The Colosseum concrete arches were innovative at the time, however in our modern era, theaters are constructed in very different methods. At the Grand 24 and many other cinemas at that time, US theaters were constructed with raked hot rolled steel and elevated concrete decking from the bottom to the very rear row. At the turn of the century, the structural supports were being altered from entire hot rolled steel supports to newer, more cost effective arrangements such as cold form steel framing and EPS structural foam. (more…)