The Muny hopes theater lovers will feel a little cooler than they have in the past.
Four giant fans will make their public debut when the 13,000 seat theater in Forest Park opens its ninety-fifth season with Monty Python's Spamalot on Monday night.
In the wake of last summer’s grueling heat wave, the theater began searching for ways to make audience members more comfortable while not disrupting performances.
Bob Powers is a designer with the architectural firm HOK, which in tandem with the engineering firm William Tao Associates, was responsible for installing the cooling system.
He says the size and scope of the theater presented a serious challenge, and humid summers meant a misting system wasn’t a viable option.
So, Powers says, they settled on fans that were originally designed for agricultural or industrial applications.
The fans’ blades, which are 20 feet in diameter, are modeled after whale fins, making them more efficient and quiet enough to run while performers are on stage.
“It allows the air to flow more efficiently across the blade,” Powers says. “There’s much less vibration in the blade, the blades are much more stable with the bumps on the edge and get about five times the efficiency of a typical blade.”
Powers says the speed of the fans, which sit about 35 feet above the concrete surface, is adjustable and audience members can expect to feel a steady breeze during performances.
“We brought a fan in from the manufacturer and we set it up on the stage,” Powers says. “The sound engineers for the Muny tested it for sound, and it worked great.”
The new fans replace those installed in 1955, which were too loud to run while performers were on stage.
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