Recently promoted to president of Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, a leading performing arts/theatre and media facilities planning and design firm, Steven Friedlander, ASTC, MIES, has also previously operated SFA, Inc., his own theatre consulting firm in New York, and spent 20 years as a lighting designer and production manager. With more than 30 years of theatre consulting experience, Friedlander has worked on significant projects that include Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carnegie Hall Studio Towers, The Pershing Square Signature Center, and SFJAZZ Center.
1. How did your career shift from lighting designer to theatre consultant?
While in university and after, I worked in production, both as a lighting designer and production manager, mostly in dance and opera. During that time, I did a good deal of touring, both nationally and internationally, and I began to understand that some facilities were better designed than others, both functionally and aesthetically. Subsequently, I reached a point in my career where I was looking for a new direction, and I felt that my experiences producing shows might translate well to helping to make new and existing theatre facilities better. (Photo Courtesy of Studio AMD)
2. What does your new role as president encompass, and what are your hopes for the future of Auerbach Pollock Friedlander?
Most importantly, my role is to continue to provide the best service to our clients. On a day-to-day basis, I have taken on a more significant role in our operations in order to allow Len [Auerbach] more time to focus on project work and design direction. I’m fortunate to be able to continue to work with a terrific group of colleagues, which is the reason I joined this firm 20 years ago. (Mountain Valley, California. Photo Credit: Jasper Sanidad)
3. What are the biggest challenges in keeping up with new trends in
building and technology?
Working with our architectural and engineering colleagues keeps us current on new trends in building technology and sustainable design. We are always responsive to new ideas and directions that designers and clients want to explore. Our role is to find a way to make these ideas mesh with the specific needs of theatre facilities. From a theatrical systems and equipment standpoint, we have always been at the forefront of developing new technology and applying it appropriately on our projects. Our excellent working relationships with manufacturers support these innovations. Our real challenge—and I believe that we are very good at this—is anticipating and designing for that which hasn’t been thought of yet, because the life of any building will be three to ten times the life of any given technology. (Monterey, California. Photo Courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder)
4. What impact do LEDs have in new theatre construction? What about renovations?
Ah yes, the sixty-four thousand dollar question or, perhaps, the sixty-four million dollar question. Certainly LEDs are having a huge impact on the architectural lighting industry, and improvements in quality of the sources and their controllability are making them even more useful. I feel that LED technology for production lighting has come of age in the last three to five years, and in our practice, we are now adjusting the way we design systems to take advantage of this technology. LED technology is not a panacea, and while it is an excellent choice for a variety of uses, there are some key qualitative challenges in using it for certain applications. It does have the potential to reduce infrastructure—electrical and mechanical—costs for some new facilities. However, right now, the high cost of LED lighting fixtures makes it difficult to create a cost-effective retrofit scenario for most facilities. The length of time to realize cost savings from electrical use and lamp replacement is far too long for theatrical facilities.(Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Photo Courtesy of Pfeiffer Partners)
5. What do you consider the most interesting projects the firm is working on now?
It is really difficult to name only a few “most interesting” projects. We work on a broad range of projects in both theatre consulting and architectural lighting. Every one of them is interesting in some way or another. The large international purpose-built theatres we are working on in China and Dubai are complex and require an intense amount of artistic vision and technical coordination. However, the university, renovation, and smaller resident theatre projects, like Writers Theatre outside of Chicago, also demand and receive concentrated effort to make sure that they are a reflection of the institutions’ aspirations and the users’ daily needs. Of course, our architectural lighting division, Auerbach Glasow French, also has some really exciting projects, such as the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco as well as multiple corporate projects—headquarters and briefing centers—and museums. (San Francisco, California. Photo Credit: Tim Griffith)
Read and see more in the July issue of Live Design, now available for free download for iPad or iPhone at the Apple App Store. (Photo Credit: David Sundberg/ETSO)
Photo Courtesy of LPAS.
Photo Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects.
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Read and see more in the July issue of Live Design, now available for free download for iPad or iPhone at the Apple App Store.