Seating and Sightline Analysis
FDA has developed its own proprietary software to speed the process of studying sightlines in three dimensions.It is called Extreme Sightlines because it looks at the most extreme side seats as well as those on the centerline.We manipulate many variables, including code requirements, acoustical criteria, upward viewing targets, row depth and plan curvature...and calculate the floor elevations required for each row at the center and sides.Parameters are listed so that assumptions can be verified.FDA's software passes the data directly into AutoCADMany versions of a section can be explored and reviewed quickly during a meeting.The architect then can use our section to further develop the room designThis example shows a variety of section and plan alternatives that were developed for the Las Vegas Performing Arts CentreFDA's Extreme Sightlines program also calculates any required row "warping" that may be required. Row warping is an old technique that is still useful for dealing with tightly curved balconies.You can see how the balconies warp at the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts...We generate the 3D model and "sit" in each seat to test the geometry.Once a section has been selected to pursue, FDA refines the section through extensive 3D CAD modeling. We are then able to confirm that the sightlines work for both centerline views....and for the seats at the extreme sides of the room.The rendered views are often used as early fund-raising tools, or as the basis for more sophisticated renderings
One of the most important criteria FDA considers when developing initial design concepts for a performance space are sightlines – the views to the stage. The room geometry, number of balconies, seating layout, and sightline quality are all interrelated and have to be conceived of as  a whole.


Over the past twenty years FDA has developed exceptionally sophisticated  proprietary software tools to speed the development process and facilitate collaboration with Architects, Acousticians and Owners. We call this software Extreme Sightlines©, because it considers views from the most extreme seats off to the side as well as from the center of the room. Extreme Sightlines© uses the powerful numerical engine of Excel and couples it directly into the drafting tools of AutoCAD. Based on detailed sightline criteria, acoustical considerations, and code parameters, the software outputs 2D drawings or 3D models in real time allowing dozens of alternatives to be considered during the course of a meeting with our collaborators.

We can manipulate various parameters, such as:

-  adding or subtracting rows
-  changing the row depth
-  changing the number of balconies
-  changing the radius of any balcony
-  moving those balconies in relation to the stage and to each other
-  changing the depth of the orchestra pit
-  changing the room width
-  raising or lowering the proscenium height or changing the width
-  altering acoustical requirements, such as balcony overhang and aperture
-  as well as many other variables

These manipulations can be made easily, with the software maintaining applicable code compliance. This tool -- unique in the industry -- has greatly increased the speed at which an initial room concept and shape can be agreed upon and further developed by a design team.

Three Dimensional Modeling

FDA also uses 3D models to evaluate sightlines and manipulate room geometry. The powerful software tools we have developed allow us to transform a few basic sightline parameters directly into a 3D AutoCAD model with just a few clicks of the mouse. Additional software tools then allow us to "sit" in the virtual seats we have created and look around the room. This technique allows us to identify and fix potential problems as well as giving the design team a firsthand look inside the new theatre.

Multiple iterations of the model with different parameters can be generated quickly and efficiently. These models allow the design team to present easy to evaluate illustrative renderings to stakeholders and make informed decisions quickly.

Some clients have used our 3D model as a basis for fund-raising, marketing, and ticket sales systems allowing patrons or donors to see the views from their seat well before the first shovelful of dirt has been overturned.