This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
In designing heating and ventilating systems for theaters, a wide experience and the greatest care are necessary to secure the best results. A theater consists of three parts: the body of the house, or auditorium; the stage and dressing-rooms; and the foyer, lobbies, corridors, stairways and offices. Theaters are usually located in cities, and surrounded with other buildings on two or more sides, thus allowing no direct connection by windows with the external air; for this reason artificial means are necessary for providing suitable ventilation, and a forced circulation by means of a fan is the only satisfactory means of accomplishing this. It is usually advisable to create a slight excess of pressure in the auditorium, in order that all openings shall allow for the discharge rather than the inward leakage of air.
The general and most approved method of air distribution is to force it into closed spaces beneath the auditorium and balcony floors, and allow it to discharge upward through small openings among the seats. One of the best methods is through chair-legs of special latticed design, which are placed over suitable openings in the floor; in this way the air is delivered to the room in small streams at a low velocity without drafts or currents. The discharge ventilation should be largely through ceiling vents, and this may be assisted if necessary by the use of ventilating fans. Vent openings should also be provided at the rear of the balconies either in, the wall or ceiling, and these should be connected with an exhaust fan either in the basement or attic, as is most convenient.
The close seating of the occupants produces a large amount of animal heat, which usually increases the temperature from 6 to 10 degrees, or even more; so that in considering a theater once filled and thoroughly warmed it becomes more of a question of cooling than one of warming to produce comfort.