The Orpheum

The Pandemic Proof Theater

“High above the audience, the building’s ceiling mural, painted by artist Tony Heinsbergen, hides a network of catwalks, winches, and lighting equipment, and through a series of grilles, features a truly spectacular view of the room below. And the ceiling’s porous nature served a function beyond the aesthetic, allowing the cigarette smoke that inevitably accumulated to disperse and be replaced with fresh air from the building’s ventilation system (at the time considered state-of-the-art). In fact, the system still functions today, a labyrinthine network of dingy tunnels that run under the entirety of the building, ending with a tall fan deep in the basement.”

“One of the most up-to-date ventilating systems on the continent was installed,” notes former Orpheum manager Ivan Ackery in his memoirs. “Air was brought from the outside and blown through a series of water sprays or screens, heated to any desired degree, then forced through a system of ducts which distributed it to every part of the building through hundreds of small pipes which opened beneath the seats. A complete change of air took place every three minutes, and with the aid of these huge air-washers, clean, dust-free air of even temperature was ensured at all times.”



Address & Contacts


601 Smithe Street, Vancouver


49.280191, -123.1201142

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