Long Center for the Performing Arts

In 2016, the Long Center for the Performing Arts, an historic theater constructed in 1920 and located in Lafayette, Indiana, embarked on a $1.25 million renovation project. Primary Engineering’s role was to design new house lights, HVAC, and fire sprinkler systems to bring the building up to date while also increasing energy efficiency.

To minimize affecting the facility’s busy event schedule, the project needed to be done in stages to allow for continued use of the venue without disruption for long periods of time. The new LED house and emergency egress lighting designs were done so as not to be visible and to maintain the historic plaster coves while also utilizing a modern, energy-efficient system. A new DMX controller, added to the LED lights, provides flexibility for future theatrical lighting upgrades.

Housed within the theater is an historic pipe organ which needed to be protected from fire, and equally, from accidental discharge of a sprinkler head. A dual-action deluge system was designed and installed to provide the needed fire protection and to mitigate damage from water discharge into the pipe chambers.

The new HVAC equipment was designed to be quiet for the theater space. Access to the original system was limited due to the large size of the air handler and basement location, however. To aid in the removal of old equipment from the building and the moving of new mechanical equipment into the building, a section of the theater’s original coal bin was opened on the public sidewalk. Scheduling was important so as not to leave the facility without heating or cooling. Cooling upgrades occurred during “shoulder seasons” when cooling could be accomplished by using an outside air economizer until the new cooling plant was brought online during a tight, three- week period. The heating system replacement occurred during the summer. The original steam heating plant was converted to a new, modern energy-efficient hot water system with condensing boilers.

The Center is currently the home of the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, and is often used by other organizations and groups including Purdue University, Lafayette Ballet, Passion Play and Wabash Valley Youth Symphony.

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