Pook Diemont & Ohl, Inc. (PDO) was the stage equipment contractor for New World Center, having integrated and managed the engineering, fabrication and installation of the variable acoustics system, performance rigging system, and performance platforms. Atlanta-based, Kristian Vatalaro was PDO's senior project manager for New World Center. Live Design hosts a Q&A with PDO about the project:

Please describe your involvement with this project, and the gear you provided:

The Variable Acoustics System* was manufactured by acouStaCorp, LLC and consists of a series of 25oz IFR white velour curtains and banners that open and deploy for the purpose of manipulating the acoustical character of the hall. This system allows the user to increase or decrease the reverberation time of room by increasing or decreasing the amount of absorbing material presented in the path of live or amplified sound. The curtains and banners are mechanically stored and deployed in a variety of ways. They are controlled via a hand held touch screen controller provided by JR Clancy.

*Variable Acoustics System

3 one-way draw tracks and drapes around the stage

1 one-way draw chain track at the back of house

12 straight lift acoustic banners on the east and west side of the hall

5 retractable acouStac banners on the north side of the hall

The Performance Rigging System consists of a Skjonberg 40-way chain motor control system that included (40) power and control receptacles which are located on the rigging beams adjacent to the rigging holes in the ceiling. Twenty-four (24) of these receptacles have load cell inputs that are monitored by the control system, which includes a hand held touch screen controller.

PDO also provided a chain motor package with 24 CM 1 ton hoists, 24 Skjonberg Load cells, and 8 pieces of Tomcat 12x12x 10ft box truss. In addition we provided road cases, slings, and a compliment of rigging hardware. We also provided a JR Clancy line shaft hoist which raises and lowers a large 40ft wide motorized roller projection screen from a storage pocket in the ceiling to its play position or to the deck for maintenance.

In the SunTrust room we provided a dead hung 20.5 x 20.5 Tomcat truss in a 26 ft square configuration along with a pair of chain motors to raise and lower a projection screen.

The performance platforms consisted of infill platforms and stairs off stage to allow egress from the different positions of the stage lift. Platforms are manufactured by Staging Concepts.

When did you get involved with this project?

We provided pricing in 2007 and signed a contract in early 2008. PDO was contracted through the General Contractor Facchina-McGaughan. We worked with Gehry Partners and Theatre Projects to fulfill their design, and coordinated with the various trades on site to integrate all of the above equipment into the building.

What was the biggest technical challenge you faced here?

As with any job the biggest challenge is coordinating all of these elements so that they arrive onsite at the right time and get installed in the right place. This is a difficult space to build. There are very few straight lines and the ones that are, are not square. The building is laid out with a coordinate system rather than a grid of column lines. The entire layout was done from the 3D model. The solution to this is diligent and persistent coordination and communication. PDO had to be very precise with our drawings and layout. Throughout the project we had to constantly monitor the changes to make sure there was no effect on our work. We also had to design our equipment with as much flexibility as possible so we could quickly adapt to field conditions.

Richard Pilbrow has called this a "harbinger" for the future in terms of venues... and Jules Lauve refers to it as a "game changer"? Is that true from your perspective?

As for a "harbinger" for the future, PDO partner Ted Ohl remarked, "No real harbinger issue for us—we see it as the continuation of a trend toward more and more complex facilities, requiring ever more attention to details of coordination with other trades on the drawing board and on the jobsite."

Related articles:

Pilbrow's Brave New World

grandMA At The New World Center