4 years ago



TRAFFIC CONTROL IN SUB-ZERO WEATHER A Fairbanks^ Alaska, Theatre Remodels to Solve a Holding-Area Problem having difficulty getting I HE EXHIBITOR who thinks he is materials and equipment for a remodeling job should consider che problem which faced the Lathrop Co. in rebuilding the Empress Theatre in Fairbanks. Alaska. Just as the building program got under way. a w^aterfront strike crippled transportation by boat and contractors resorted to almost every mode of handling freight except reindeer team. Materials and equipment were hauled in by air freight, barge and auto freight up the Alcan highway. Most of the finished items used on the job were sent in by air and the entire marquee display was especially designed by the architectural firm of Carlson, Eley, Grevstad of Seattle so that it could be fitted into the largest freight plane available. The Empress Theatre, built in 1927 by the late Captain ARCHITECT: CARLSON - ELEY - GREVSTAD Austin E. Lathrop, was the first reinforced concrete and steel frame building in interior Alaska, They said then it couldn't be done and when the shipping strike hit Alaska, there were those who again warned that it would be virtually impossible to bring in all materials and equipment by air and auto frieght to complete the remodeling job. In remodeling the theatre, the purpose was not only to create an attractive new front, but to provide a maximum of space for a holding area In the far north this is absolutely essential. Temperatures reaching as low as minus 60 degrees were a considerable factor in the design developed by the architects to handle the flow of traffic. It is the policy of the theatre to stop all flow of traffic into the auditorium for a considerable period before the end of the feature. The result is that local patrons are pretty well trained to show up all at once, just before the break. The management then very carefully routs all outgoing traffic through the exits following along behind with the incoming patrons who immediately fill up the auditorium for the next show. An examination of the floor plan will show, through the use of arrows, how the incoming and outgoing traffic flow is controled by the theatre management. When the theatre was built, the entrance occupied very little of the frontage. A vertical sign was about all the identification given to the theatre, and the foyer was a long narrow passageway leading to the auditorium. In the new design, a travel agency which occupied the greater portion of the street frontage was shifted into a smaller area and the space previously devoted to commercial enterprises was redone into a handsome modern showplace. The resulting effect is certainly not what the movies them- The boxoffice area, before and after remoc/e/ing. Originally, the lobby was little more than a long corridor. In the remodeling, the boxoffica space was removed, the entrance doors were walled off ond the old lobby become a travel agency office. In the lower photo, the area at the left is for holdouts. The elaborately styled concessions bar can also be seen through the doors. The MODERN THEATRE SECTION

The before and after photos of the Bmpress. The floor plan at the right shows how the old store space was converted into a boxoffice-lobby area. All dotted lines indicate walls removed. Walls in black are new. The shaded walls are those that were existing and which were left. Display Pamcus