Tenant Improvement/Renovation

Image by Sean Airhart, NBBJ
The IMAX theater got new seats and finishes, along with extensive acoustical treatments.

Paccar IMAX Theater renovation
Rafn Co.

Architect: NBBJ
Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Owner: Pacific Science Center
ABC members: Clark Nuber P.S.; NCM Contracting Group, ReNu Division; Propel Insurance

The Pacific Science Center Paccar IMAX Theater is a makeover of the 32-year-old Eames IMAX Theater housed inside of the yet even older Cyclorama, which is a relic of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair United States Science Pavilion.

Completed by Rafn Co. in early December, the renovated 325-seat theater is equipped with the latest IMAX 3-D digital projection technology and sound system, and is designed as a state-of-the-art venue for lectures, debates and multi-media presentations. Work included new seats and finishes; extensive acoustical treatments; and new mechanical, electrical, and lighting systems.

The venue is one of the first IMAX theaters enabled to show both digital and analog film. This is accomplished by projector transport units, which are mobile platforms on tracks that allow changeover between the 3-D IMAX digital projectors and the original IMAX film projector.

The central challenge to the project was access to high work within the oval-shaped space. Rafn built sound walls between the webs of the roof precast beams and abutting the top of the Cyclorama to isolate the theater space from the surrounding building shell; hung acoustic fin panels from the T-beam ceiling; and installed armatures for screen frame support, and large speaker platforms.

The Rafn team also installed acoustical insulation between the beam webs, had new exposed spiral HVAC ducts installed and hung theatrical lighting trusses, all of which were painted black. The surrounding multi-planar Cyclorama wall required patching and painting, as well as an enlarged projection port opening.

Rafn developed a cost-saving idea during preconstruction which greatly simplified the approach for in-filling the gap between the top of the Cyclorama wall and the precast T-beam ceiling to create the acoustically isolated theater.

The final challenge of the project was timing. The Science Center wanted the theater completed in time for the holiday movie season. A delay in shipment of the theater seating from the manufacturer in Spain threatened that. Also, a pinhole defect in the special ultra-clear glass that separates the projection room from the theater resulted in a spot the size of a basketball when projected on the screen. In both cases, Rafn worked with the subcontractors and suppliers to get the correct products in place.

The project was completed with 5,891 hours worked and no recordable incidents.

Copyright ©2012 Seattle Daily Journal and DJC.COM.
Comments? Questions? Contact us.