Trane helps NYC theater with climate challengesThe historic New York City Center is a 2,750-capacity dance theater, but it was almost turned into a parking lot.

The 12-story building was saved by Fiorello LaGuardia, the city’s mayor from 1934 to 1945.

Today, the building has four studios and hosts famous dance companies, musical theater groups and other performances. Recently, building management wanted to invest in the building and improve operations as well as the comfort for audiences.

The project included improvements to areas of the building that the public never sees, including dressing room updates and systems that operate the building.

While building management wanted the improvements to move forward, they didn’t want construction to interrupt the theater’s schedule. City Center worked closely with its vendors to ensure that building improvements could be scheduled over the course of two summers, allowing the regularly scheduled performance seasons to proceed with minimal interruptions. 

Warm dancers, cool patrons

One of the challenges of the project was controlling air conditioning. The theater wanted audiences to stay comfortable, but allow dancers to be warm enough to keep their muscles limber. This was especially difficult because the stage and seating spaces are connected in one large, open room.

That is when Trane stepped in. The company worked closely with building operators to ensure that the building’s systems worked efficiently to create a comfortable environment for both audience and performers.

To address the challenge, City Center and Trane departed from the traditional method of controlling the environment through measuring the return air’s temperature. Instead, Trane installed temperature sensors throughout the auditorium seating area and on stage, allowing levels to be controlled by measuring the actual temperature the users of the space experience.

City Center management worked with Trane to bring new and existing HVAC equipment into one central chiller plant controlled by Trane to make management of the building systems more efficient.

The Trane building automation system was installed to control the five existing Climate Changer air-handling units. Trane upgraded the air-handling units with new airflow stations and carbon dioxide sensors. Trane also added sensors in the theater to monitor CO2 levels, and when levels are above operator set points the program will command the outside-air dampers to bring fresh air into the space.

 Trane officials reported that one of the biggest improvements was the building’s chilled-water systems. The theater was able to operate a smaller 100-ton chiller most of the time, while reserving the larger 360-ton Trane centrifugal chillers for peak demands such as hot days and full-house situations. City Center building operators can switch back and forth as needed using the Trane controls.