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Buy in by Architects for Home Theaters

The following is a recommendation of how to influence architects to consider a dedicated theater room early in the design phase.

It is good news when an architect contacts an integrator with a project containing a dedicated theater. But what of the many times they do not? Did the client expressly direct the architect to exclude the home theater? Was the subject ever broached?

It is in our industry’s best interest for a theater room to be considered in every case. The following is a recommendation of how to present this concept to the influencer best positioned to make this happen.

How do architects determine which rooms are included in a new home design? This decision is part of the vital “programming” phase of home design. Some rooms are always considered, as they are essential to the health and wellbeing of the family members. Others have become almost as ubiquitous in our culture, while others are seemingly an afterthought unless specifically requested.

As an industry, it is a good thing if architects always present the idea of a private theater to every client. Image: ThinkStock

If a room is not included during this early consideration, it may be difficult to fit it in later. This is especially the case with a room like a dedicated theater.

Requirement of Early Planning. As a functional space, private theaters have physical requirements that will demand early planning. Acoustical, sight line, and ergonomics exert significant dimensional impact and need to be accommodated early. A well-conceived private theater will also feature independent mechanical requirements and have increased electrical needs as well.

Performance Requirements. These considerations require the assistance of professionals. Overall volume, dimensions, and configuration will influence the acoustics and video performance as well as the ability to accommodate the desired audience size.

Impact. A private theater will not only be affected by other household environments and uses but will impact neighboring spaces as well. Placing the private theater next to the laundry is just as poor a choice as adjacent to the nursery!

Desirability. Clients who have enjoyed the benefits of well-executed private theaters sing their praise. Architects who have been involved in such projects do as well.

Benefits. Entertainment and recreation are vital restorative activities. Private theaters are strong resources for this, as well as other beneficial social and private times. A great private theater will improve the amount and quality of social and recreational time in the home.

Notability. Private theaters are rooms that attract significant attention. The combination of aesthetics, engineering, and fun produce opportunities for stunning photography and stimulating press or media. Positive PR is always desirable.

With these, and so many more good reasons to mention theaters, why do architects seem to ignore them?

Uninformed. Without a previous experience or enthusiastic client, an architect will not have first-hand knowledge of how effective and beneficial a private theater can be.

Misinformed. The general preconception is that theaters are too expensive, not worth the effort, and underused. Nothing is further from the truth for well-conceived private theaters.

Bad Experience. In many cases, theaters have been attempted as an afterthought or without the proper team to execute properly. These bad memories cause many architects to avoid theater rooms unless demanded by the client.

What should our message to architects be? First, we should want them to understand that private theaters are very desirable rooms that should be discussed with every client in the discovery phase of project programming. Benefits experienced by owners of well-executed private theaters include enhanced family time, greater socializing opportunities, rediscovery of music, film, and other dimensions in theirs lives. In other words, private theaters offer a great diversion from busy, stressful lives.

Private theaters also provide a great value to an architect’s clients. Once clients understand and can see how their family’s lifestyles are enhanced by a private theater, the cost is considered to be a very worthwhile investment.

As an industry, it is a good thing if architects always present the idea of a private theater to every client. Architects speak with their clientele earlier than most other consultants, and subsequently have the greatest impact on the direction a project is going to take. As a consultant, an architect’s objective is to create the best possible environment for their clients. It should enhance and enrich their lives. What better attribute than to add joy, dimension, togetherness, and escape to the lives of their busy, successful clientele. That is precisely what a great private theater will do. Now, our job is to go spread the news.