Tarlton Completes Renovation to OMNIMAX Theater at Saint Louis Science Center


Tarlton Corp. general contractors and construction managers completed renovations to the Saint Louis Science Center’s OMNIMAX® Theater just in time for holiday guests. The theater reopened to the public Nov. 29.

The St. Louis-based firm’s scope of work in the five-story, 80-foot-diameter domed theater and adjacent spaces included the installation of a raised access floor that allows presenters to be better seen by the audience; installation of new carpeting, handrails and guardrails; lighting upgrades; the hoisting of the new projector system; electrical work associated with the new projector system; installation of a projector access platform; and technical upgrades that allow the Science Center to livestream and simulcast educational programming. The team also updated finishes in the theater lobby.

Tarlton Concrete Restoration, a division of Tarlton Corp., cleaned the theater’s rows of tiered concrete seating and applied a polyurethane-based coating to the floor. Similar to protective coatings Tarlton applies in parking structures, the concrete sealant will improve surface wear and provide long-term protection in the high-traffic theater.

Working directly for the Science Center, Spitz Inc. installed 433 new video screen panels in the dome’s existing framework to create a new, seamless screen. Sparrow Audio Visual updated the projection system to IMAX® with Laser, a next-generation laser technology designed for 180-degree domed theater environments. The system creates a 40 percent greater color range to produce a more immersive experience for theater-goers. This scope of work makes the theater one of just four IMAX Dome with Laser theaters in the world.

Tarlton worked closely with the Saint Louis Science Center to create a wider array of accessibility options for visitors using wheelchairs and companion seating. Upgraded technology for individuals with visual and hearing impairments includes assistive listening technology comprising an audio induction loop that transmits a magnetic wireless signal for use by people with hearing aids. The technology, relatively new to the St. Louis region, was provided and programmed by Senseart Solutions.

Renovations to the theater began in late July. Because the team was working in a fully operational facility open to the public, construction activities were phased to minimize disruptions to Science Center guests and staff. Materials were moved between the first-floor loading dock and second-floor theater before and after regular business hours. Because storage space was limited, deliveries of large orders (theater seats, for example) were scheduled just before installation. The Tarlton team included Sondra Rotty, project director; Nick Eshelman, project manager; Peter Boldt, project superintendent; and Michael Dahl, general foreman.

The project is the largest renovation to the theater since it opened in 1991. From that time until this year’s renovation, the OMNIMAX® Theater had screened 117 films to more than 8.7 million visitors.

The mission of the Saint Louis Science Center is to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning. Named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate in 2016, the Saint Louis Science Center features more than 700 interactive exhibits, as well as a five-story OMNIMAX® Theater, Boeing Hall and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. For more information about the Saint Louis Science Center, please visit slsc.org. 

Tarlton Corp. is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise that provides outstanding preconstruction and construction solutions to clients in the life science, higher education, health care, commercial, power and industrial markets. In business since 1946, the Midwest general contractor/construction manager also has special expertise in concrete construction, restoration and maintenance. Tarlton has completed many landmark St. Louis projects and is committed to improving lives through inclusive construction, civic engagement and service to others.

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