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    Theatrical Consciousness

    by Stanley Boles, FAIA

    The newly opened Mondavi Center, for music, dance, and theater, is part of a master plan for the University of California at Davis aimed at creating a new image for the campus. Overcoming the special challenges of designing "green" in a performing arts center, BOORA Architects and Arup engineers have made the building a model of sustainability.

    Much as UCD's academic heritage is concerned with the stewardship of the land, so the architectural design of the new 104,000-square-foot (9600-square-meter) Mondavi Center is concerned with incorporating environmentally conscious features, inside and out. The design team has come up with novel construction and HVAC systems that have important implications for the theater's acoustics and the building's energy consumption.

    HVAC and Acoustics

    Throughout most of the building, conditioned air either heated or cooled is introduced at the floor level instead of at the ceiling. To accommodate this in the largest room, the 1800-seat Jackson Hall, there is a basement space ranging from 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) in height under the entire orchestra level of seating.

    Similarly, there are hollow cavities under the seating areas of all balcony levels. In these under-floor spaces are large ducts that push the conditioned air into the plenum and up under the seats. Circular grilles are located over the vents through which the air passes.

    Because this air is introduced where the audience is seated and not 80 feet (24 meters) above, where all the theatrical lighting is located, the air does not have to be super-chilled. The air is supplied at around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Centigrade) instead of the more conventional 55 (13) degrees. This saves energy and results in greater patron comfort.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    The Mondavi Center, designed for the performance of music, dance, and theater by BOORA Architects.
    Photo: Neil Michel/Axiom photo

    ArchWeek Image

    The new theater gives the University of California at Davis a new image.
    Photo: Debbie Aldridge/UC Davis Mediaworks

     

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