Heat might flow at Lava, the high-end dance venue at the Turning Stone casino resort, in Verona, N.Y. 

But one thing that won’t is cigarette smoke, thanks to air curtains that separate the nonsmoking club from its 5,000-square-foot outdoor patio. 

The 5-year-old club recently installed custom air curtains from Berner International. The curtains were part of a $5,000 project that allows patrons to take a break from the action inside by traveling through a climate-controlled year-round passageway to the outdoor courtyard. 

Prior to the installation of the curtains and passageway, getting to the landscaped smoking patio from the 22,000-square-foot, two-story nightclub required traveling through an automatic overhead door. The 10-foot-high, 22-foot-wide door was closed 90 percent of the time due to wind, outside temperature fluctuations and flying inspects, and it may not have projected the vibe the casino’s owners, the Oneida Indian tribe, wanted. 

The air curtains allow patrons to easily pass through while keeping the unwanted smoke and insects out. The two curtains are designed to work together from a single control panel and a door-activated switch. Berner manufacturer’s representative Liberty Electric Sales Inc. of East Syracuse, N.Y., suggested the arrangement. It also features a variable-frequency drive that permits several different fan speeds from the six ½-horsepower motors. 

Comfort considerations

The system was designed with the nightclub patrons’ comfort in mind, said Mike Vaccaro, the casino’s facilities director. 

“It gives us flexibility to tune the air velocity so it’s effective, but also not disturbing to the patrons,” Vaccaro said. 

It works by drawing inside air from the facility and releasing it through adjustable linear nozzles to produce an airstream that meets at the floor. The curtains use two 12-by-144-inch hot water coils fed by the casino’s natural gas domestic hot water and heating boiler, made by Clever-Brooks. It helps ensure extra heat whether the door is open  or not, containing 70 percent to 80 percent of the heated air.

Installing the air curtains was the idea of the casino’s architectural department. Its officials had already overseen the construction of the resort’s five golf courses, conference center, 5,000-seat auditorium, four hotels, sports complex and almost everything else on the 3,400-acre property. 

Jerry Marrello, the resort’s operations manager, said the courtyard is one of the visitors’ favorite attractions, along with the 2,000-square-foot dance floor, high-end sound system, deep-red furnishings and special-effects lighting. 


“The courtyard is visually beautiful, especially with the lit waterfall and it’s just like having another 5,000-square-foot room added to the club,” Marrello said. “The doorway is unnoticeable when open and I get comments all the time that people walk toward what they think is another room and suddenly they’re outside.”

Additional features of the smoking patio include two ponds, six cabanas and a stone garden path.  

Perhaps most important to Vaccaro and other resort officials are the energy and money savings offered by the curtains. The units save an estimated $8,000 a year in HVAC costs, since the 3,000- to 6,500-feet-per minute airstream keeps out a lot more than just bugs and cigarette smoke. Cold winter drafts and hot, humid summer air is also kept at bay. 

It is benefits like those that makes Vaccaro say that eventually, air curtains could move from the loading dock and restaurant doorways to home use.

“Because they are excellent at saving energy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them going into the residential market some day,” he said.

For reprints of this article, contact Renee Schuett at (248) 786-1661 or email schuettr@bnpmedia.com