LEEDing the way: AMC Randhurst delivers access, sustainability and new seating options
“I wish I lived in Mount Prospect, because our new AMC Randhurst 12 is going to be the place to gather with family and friends to watch movies,” AMC Entertainment’s Gerry Lopez declared prior to the April 29 opening of this Greater Chicago-area 1,800-seat plex. “We carefully designed this theatre to have less of an impact on the environment while delivering a ‘WOW’ factor to our guests.”
That’s quite a statement coming from a CEO and company president who, right on his home turf in Kansas City, Missouri, can count the amazing AMC Mainstreet among his corporate portfolio of 360 theatres with 5,128 screens across the United States and Canada (www.amctheatres.com).
But AMC Randhurst stands out as the very first theatre to offer a full range of innovative seating options on its 21-inch/53-cm stadium risers with 48-inch/122-cm row spacing, and the first in the area to offer Sony 4K systems. In addition to its full-serve MacGuffins bar and lounge area, the AMC Marketplace features expanded snack options including Coca-Cola Freestyle. It also boasts the AMC ETX: Enhanced Theatre Experience (FJI October 2010), comprised of a 20% larger screen, 3D and upgraded sound system “with nearly twice as many audio channels compared to a typical auditorium.” And in line with our special look at accessibility on page xx, AMC Randhurst offers the latest in assisted moviegoing technology as well.
“Ultra-Stereo Labs’ CaptiView system allows guests to attach a receiver unit into their cup-holder and enables them to read the closed captioning as the movie is playing,” Ryan Noonan, AMC Theatres’ director of public relations, explains. “Every auditorium at AMC Randhurst 12 will have the system, but we’re still getting up to speed there, so not all auditoriums may be functioning at this time.” A commitment to all-inclusive entertainment is an integral part of AMC’s mission statement. “We also offer headphones with receivers for two distinct channels: One channel is for hearing-impaired guests and the other is providing descriptive narration for our visually impaired guests. Because not every movie is released with closed-caption and audio options,” he encourages guests “to check at the box office to find out which films are available with these features.”
What makes AMC Randhurst 12 even more special is that all these features are located under one LEED-certified theatre roof (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). According to the media notes, the globally recognized green-building certification system provides a concise framework for implementing practical and measurable environmentally friendly improvements in design, construction, operations and maintenance. “This is very important to us,’ Noonan assures, “especially since Randhurst marks the first new building from the ground up in a couple of years. It just makes sense. We want to be champions for our guests in all areas and that includes the moviegoing experience, full accessibility and the environment. The opportunity to do Chicagoland’s first LEED-certified theatre is where we wanted to go.”
Noonan enthuses, “The theatre is quite spectacular. To be honest with you, I was kind of jealous of the seating options they have there. It’s nothing like anything we have anywhere in our circuit at this time.”
Noonan happily provides our readers a tour. “As you walk into the auditorium, you notice right away how much nicer the seating is than it was at the old Randhurst 16.” Located across the street, that complex originally opened under General Cinema on Nov. 22, 1996, shut down on April 28 and was subsequently demolished. In addition to AMC’s signature LoveSeat rockers, the Randhurst 12 offers no less than four different seating options, which are available at the same price and on a first-come, first-served basis. “Our traditional seats are right there in the middle,” Noonan continues. “Down front, in the first row, you will find an overstuffed chaise that is similar to our Cinema Suites chair. As a recliner, it can lean all the way back and allows moviegoers to put their feet up. This is a fantastic option for people who like to sit in the front row.” In addition to patrons being able to individually adjust viewing angles towards the screen, he assures us that there is still plenty of legroom for the people behind them.
Similarly, the third option “brings significant legroom to the oversized seats and armrests in the very back row. On the auditorium sides, we have what you could call four ‘box seats’ with a table. In the larger houses they are on both sides, and in the others at least on one.” In either instance, the space above the entrance ramps is turned into “your very own section” that way. “The table is perfect to put down popcorn or to place a drink that you bought at our MacGuffins bar.”
How does beer and alcohol licensing work in Chicagoland? “Obviously you have to be 21 to purchase a drink, but once you put your wrist band on, you can take drinks, which are served in non-breakable plastic cups, into any one of our auditoriums.”
Unlike AMC’s Fork & Screen, there is no in-theatre dining and food service at Randhurst. Instead, the AMC Marketplace offers a wide range of snack options. “It’s not like your traditional concession stand,” Noonan elaborates about the grab-and-go-style set-up. “As you enter, you go right to the items that you want. You gather everything before paying centrally on the way out.”
Having a Marketplace at the theatre that he attends back home in Kansas City, Noonan himself very much prefers the model. “There’s no waiting in line, no waiting to be serviced. We have popcorn, of course, specialty drinks and hot foods such as pizza, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks, along with large displays for candy, scooped ice cream, shakes and AMC’s healthy snack options. Our popcorn is prepared right there on the spot and our associates keep rotating and restocking the bags under the heater so that everything is always fresh and hot.”
In addition to popcorn flavors, toppings and condiments, AMC also installed slushy machines and the new Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers. “First time I’ve seen one,” Noonan enthuses. “I kind of got addicted right there on the spot. Guests are able to mix up to 106 different flavor combinations. The computerized machine is connected to the Internet,” he notes, “and the Coca-Cola system checks back every night about carbonation levels, syrup usage and all that.”
Given all these tantalizing options and related technologies, does Noonan have one favorite feature? “The entire theatre is outstanding and provides an impeccable moviegoing experience,” he responds. “It’s tough to choose between the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, the convenience of the Marketplace concession area, the ETX presentation experience and the fun atmosphere of MacGuffins. But I’ve never seen anything like those box seats at the theatre and I know exactly where I’d go to watch a movie in Mount Prospect.”
Environmentally Sustainable Initiatives
“Pursuant to AMC’s desire to be a better neighbor and steward of the earth, the proposed AMC Randhurst 12 will endeavor to be the company’s first LEED-certifiable building.” This was the goal stated towards the beginning of the theatre’s development phase. Film Journal International is saluting AMC Entertainment’s efforts by highlighting some of the key accomplishments. In order to obtain LEED status, the building must achieve a minimum score within six categories, defined by the U.S. Green Building Council to improve performance in the areas of Site, Water Efficiency, Energy, Materials, Indoor Air Quality, and Innovation & Design.
“Through these combined measures, AMC will deliver a new prototype,” the circuit promises, “that not only reduces cost of construction and addresses environmental issues in a healthy, eco-friendly way, but also presents the opportunity to inform and educate our guests of the importance of undertaking these measures.” Other exhibitors may take note and be educated as well. (Andreas Fuchs)
-- The theatre site is being redeveloped rather than clearing virgin or protected land.
-- The contractor was required to provide a plan on how to minimize erosion and storm-water runoff through the use of erosion fences, temporary plantings, etc.
-- Bicycle racks and preferred parking are provided for low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles (5% of the total number of vehicles within the overall development).
-- A white membrane roof was installed to reflect unwanted solar heat gain and reduce energy consumption.
-- Ultra low-flow toilets, faucets and showers have been installed, producing a 44.5% reduction as compared to other recent AMC new-build theatres.
-- The building was designed to exceed industry efficiency standards by almost 21% afforded by the use of a constant volume mechanical a/c system and refrigerant with no harmful CFC discharge.
-- On-demand (instantaneous) gas water heaters and thermal insulation are well above code requirements.
-- Strategic reduction of light fixtures created lower power consumption without any perceptible difference in light levels to AMC associates or adverse impact to the guest experience.
-- 35% of projected electricity use for the building for the first two years has been purchased from certified green sources.
-- The building will be monitored for one year to verify that the systems and energy-saving measures are performing according to design.
-- AMC Randhurst 12 has designated a space within the trash enclosure for the collection and sorting of recyclable materials.
-- The general contractor was required to separate recyclable materials during construction and to divert them from landfills.
-- Large amounts of recycled materials were utilized in building. Fly ash and recycled aggregate were used in the concrete, while epoxy countertops, decorative acrylic, and upholstery with recycled content make for more noticeable and “guest-forward” green contributions. All structural steel on the project came from recycled sources.
-- Many of the interior finishes as well as the concrete were manufactured within 500 miles (800 km) of the site.
Indoor Air Quality
-- Industry-standard, acceptable air quality is maintained by prohibiting smoking in the building and locating exterior designated smoking areas at least 25 feet away from doors, windows and air intakes.
-- Permanent monitoring equipment has been installed to ensure the appropriate minimum level of ventilation.
-- Air quality was monitored and maintained during construction as well. All materials stored on site were protected from moisture so as to prevent mold. Air filters were changed prior to occupancy.
-- Temperature and light controls have been included throughout the building, including the back of house areas.
-- Low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and coatings were used throughout the interiors. All carpet, adhesives and sealants installed are low-VOC emitting materials.
Innovation & Design
While most of the points within this category are subject to committee reviews, listed are some of the initiatives being pursued.
-- Saving more than 40% more water than the current benchmark.
-- An additional 35% of projected electricity use for the building may be purchased from certified green sources.
-- Development of a green education program throughout the theatre, including signage at patron-accessible “touch points” and preshow content informing about the less visible green initiative undertaken at AMC Randhurst 12.
(Adapted from information provided by AMC Entertainment)