Designed to Draw a Crowd

As more homeowners install sophisticated audio and video technology in their dens, enticing them to visit theaters becomes that much more challenging, so specialty firms such as TK Architects International end up making it their mission. Founded in 1981 in Kansas City, Missouri, TK focuses on cinema, entertainment, and hospitality design. “Capturing that social opportunity and making it worth people’s while from a financial and entertainment standpoint is what our designers are thinking about and working on every day,” firm principal Jack Muffoletto says.

TK is one of the world’s leaders in specialized cinema architecture and engineering, and it calls some of the largest cinema exhibitors its clients. The firm blends technical expertise with design acumen to give clients functional, efficient movie theaters that are still pleasing to the eye. “We try to create a great experience for patrons when they choose to have a night out,” principal Mike Cummings says. TK has done theaters for chains and independent owners, and here it walks American Builders Quarterly through projects from both sides of its niche market.

Epic Theaters of West Volusia

Epic Theatres of West Volusia

Deltona, FL

Started
2009

Completed
2011

Size
51,000 square feet

Cost
$5.25 million

Building Type
Multiplex theater

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West Volusia is a newer planned development in the city of Deltona. Anchoring the community, the Epic Theaters’ multiplex, TK’s fifth project for the chain, is “meant to be the economic engine that drives office, retail, and restaurant development into the area,” Muffoletto says. Construction was initially delayed because of an endangered bird species occupying the 160-acre site, but once the area was secured for building, the theater complex was the first structure to go up.

TK helped Epic install digital projectors, a newer technology in movie-theater design, for all 12 of the multiplex’s screens. “Digital projection will be standard in the US movie industry within the next year,” Cummings says. The firm also designed two of the multiplex’s theater spaces to feature Epic’s XL (or, large-format) technology. Each of these specialized auditoriums is able to seat more than 400 people, and the screens are 65 feet wide (typical screens are 35 feet wide), meaning every inch is visible no matter where a patron sits.

Crafting the interior design of a multiplex can be challenging. At West Volusia, as soon as patrons enter the facility, they are greeted with a mix of modern and traditional aesthetic elements. The focal point of the lobby is an illuminated concession bar, which is now the most successful concession bar in the Epic chain. The auditorium entrances are detailed with wall panels made by modularArts that have a patterned finish. “These design choices draw patrons into the movie theater and provide an experience that all ages appreciate,” Muffoletto says.

The completed Epic Theaters multiplex at West Volusia is so well outfitted that it has become not only the flagship for the Epic chain but also the company’s corporate headquarters.

Epic Theaters of West Volusia

Grand Avenue Theater

Belton, TX

Started
2010

Completed
2012

Size
24,300 square feet

Cost
$4.4 million

Building Type
Independent multiplex theater

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In a small town, the movie theater can become a true gathering place, and this is exactly what happened when TK brought the Grand Avenue Theater to Belton, Texas. The community’s 18,486 residents got the satisfaction of knowing that area businesses would play a part in the venue’s construction, and they now have a completed theater that provides a more social movie experience.

The multiplex, owned by a member of Belton’s City Council, sits on the perimeter of the town in a planned development that’s expected to expand rapidly over the next few years. The venue’s builder, Maedgen Construction, is a partner in the development, according to Muffoletto, so it worked “to tap local resources to build a cost-effective and functional facility for Belton residents to enjoy.” TK worked with Maedgen and created a timeless design for the theater—a look and feel that would reflect Belton’s roots.

The building’s award-winning marquee welcomes theatergoers warmly, lighting up the entrance and the traditional brick façade. And, in the lobby, TK included both a traditional concession stand and a 1950s-style café serving soda fountain favorites that will take older patrons back to their childhoods. “The owners wanted to create a classic American movie feel that recalls what it was like to go to the movies in days gone by,” Cummings says.

In the auditoriums themselves, though, TK still incorporated the various amenities important to today’s moviegoers, including 3-D technology, VIP seating, and state-of-the-art screens. The firm also worked a full-service kitchen into its design so that in-theater dining would be possible. The result is a modern theater that still blends perfectly into Belton’s quaint milieu. ABQ

Grand Avenue Theater / PHOTO: CRAIG WASHBURN
Grand Avenue Theater / PHOTO: CRAIG WASHBURN