Performance Based Design

Theater Smoke Control

Performance-based design of smoke exhaust system to increase theater seating density 



High occupant loads and quantity of combustibles make theaters one of the most challenging occupancies from a life safety perspective. As with most commercial spaces, the more people that can safely occupy a space, the more useful the space and the more profitable the space. 


We performed fire and egress modeling to maximize seating density beyond what is allowed in accordance with the word of the prescriptive requirements while maintaining a high level of life safety to the occupants. Through a holistic performance-based design analysis, we quantified likely fire scenarios, modeled fire development, smoke movement, and occupant evacuation. This analysis allowed us to both satisfy the prescriptive requirements for emergency stage ventilation and also leverage an exception for a ‘smoke protected seating’ arrangement. The engineered smoke control system afforded maximum flexibility and increased life safety. 

Bottom Line

67% increase in allowed common path of travel (30ft to 50ft)

34% decrease in mechanical exhaust capacity (91,500 CFM to 60,000 CFM)

Increased seating density 

Services Provided

Performance Based Design


International Building Code (IBC) - Section 410.3.7

International Building Code (IBC) - Section 1029.8

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