Acoustical smoke vents help solve design dilemma

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October 03, 2019 |
BILCO Smoke Vents

Five acoustical smoke vents manufactured by The BILCO Company were installed at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts, a regional arts center that opened in 2018 in Michigan. (Image by Brooksie Production)

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts opened in 2018, bringing the first large-scale cultural hub to residents of Northwest Michigan. The 525-seat, $25 million facility is located in one of the state’s most culturally-diverse regions, and the center’s programming is designed to reflect that.
Audiences at the Center in Petoskey, Mich. will enjoy performances in classical musical, ballet, intellectual dialogue, comedy, country, jazz, cinema, and more. With such a diverse series of shows, designing a facility that met the needs of audiences and the performers proved daunting. The architectural team at TowerPinkster and the theater designers, Fisher Dachs Associates, paid particular attention to the sound and acoustical systems in the 40,000 square foot center.
Among the key components are five acoustical smoke vents manufactured by The BILCO Company. Automatic smoke vents protect property and aid firefighters in bringing a fire under control by removing smoke, heat and gases from a burning building.
The vents allow air quality and visibility to be maintained inside the theater so that patrons can exit safely, and firefighters can enter. The smoke vents also block outside noise to maintain the quality of the sophisticated sound system used at this facility.

BILCO Smoke VentsThe vents protect property and aid firefighters in bringing a fire under control by removing smoke, heat and gases from a burning building. (Image by Brooksie Productions)

The vents feature an industry-high STC 46 sound rating and are ideal for concert halls, theaters and other interior applications. They include a Thermolatch® positive hold/release mechanism that ensures reliable operation when a fire occurs. They also feature powerful gas spring operators to open covers in snow and wind, and are fully-insulated and gasketed for weather tightness. They are constructed with corrosion-resistant materials for years of dependable service.
“With the potential for more than 500 visitors for larger events, our team knew we would have a need for a dependable smoke ventilation system,’’ said Jason Novotny, the lead architect for TowerPinkster. “With this being a high-performing acoustical environment, we designed a separate structure for the performance hall from the remainder of the building. This was solely for acoustical isolation of building elements. The BILCO acoustical smoke vents became a part of this ‘shell within a shell’ with their acoustical sound-reducing characteristics.”
Meeting the acoustical challenge was not the only issue facing the center’s design team. Situated just steps from Little Traverse Bay, an offshoot of Lake Michigan, the teams also wanted to incorporate the region’s rich aesthetic qualities. Novotny said the architectural team developed a theme for the space that was highly influenced by local colors and textures. “We included aged copper, Petoskey stone, natural sedimentary rock, and of course, the beautiful blue waters of Lake Michigan,’’ Novotny said.
In the end, the teams met the challenges and delivered a facility that adds an important element to the region’s cultural arts scene.
“Designing a theater is a very specialized field that includes three-dimensional components such as sight-lines from each and every seat in the venue,’’ said Jill O’Neill, the Center’s Executive Director. “It’s a theater that presents a diverse array of performance types and has differing acoustical needs which add to the design complexity.”

Great Lakes Center for the Arts
Bay Harbor, Michigan

Company info:
The BILCO Company

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