Designing a Theater for Safety: An Inside Look at the Orpheum

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Ben Piasecki
Strategic Channel Account Manager

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Publish date

Feb 16, 2022

In many ways, the story of Evolv’s success at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennessee is no different than at any other venue.

Because of Evolv, theatergoers get into the venue more quickly. There are no lines out the door while people wait to have their belongings checked by security – they just walk on through, maybe they buy a beverage or some memento of the show, and have a pleasant experience. And, of course, all of this comes without compromising safety, thanks to Evolv’s cutting-edge technology.

But this story is different because of the way that Evolv came to the Orpheum Theater.

Evolv & Johnson Controls

One of the things that sets this Orpheum Theater experience apart is that Evolv’s customer on the project was actually Johnson Controls, not the theater itself.

Johnson Controls works to transform the environments where people live, work, learn, and play. “It’s all about the design,” says Josh Boswell, a commercial account executive at Johnson Controls who worked closely with the Orpheum on deployment. “For our customers, we seek to optimize building performance, enhance comfort, and improve safety. For Orpheum’s patrons, comfort and safety are both incredibly important; we could not sacrifice one for the other. When we saw Evolv Express® in action, and learned how it is strategically placed in a venue to do exactly those things, we knew it was the right solution.”

Because Evolv can be integrated with other technologies, such as video surveillance and access control, it helps Johnson Controls offer a more complete building-wide solution across a variety of industries and venues.

At the Orpheum Theater, Johnson Controls was able to figure out ahead of time where the Evolv system would best work alongside the venue’s other security measures. Because the type of physical security screening Evolv offers is different from traditional electronic security like access control, cameras, and intrusion systems, Johnson Controls took care of those aspects first. From that point, the Evolv deployment was turnkey.

Orpheum’s unique safety and patron experience needs

Representatives from the Orpheum Theater were with the team from Johnson Controls to see Evolv in action at another venue. They immediately saw the answer to a consistent problem.

The Orpheum has always placed a priority on safety. They had security inside the venue covered. The problem came when people were waiting to get inside, as security checks forced the line to spill outside into the street.

Achieving internal buy-in was easy because the benefit of the Evolv system was twofold. Not only did it get people inside the venue more quickly – and more safely – it did so in a completely contactless manner. To be able to get patrons to their seats with as little contact as possible at a time when the Orpheum was navigating COVID enabled the Orpheum’s vice president and chief operating officer to quickly get fellow decision-makers on board with Evolv.

Back on stage

Today, when the Orpheum opens its doors to the kinds of performances it prides itself on bringing to the mid-South, like a Broadway show, patrons walk right in without having to stop for security.

The response has been positive all around – both from the customers’ point of view as well as the board members who needed to provide that all-important approval.

The Orpheum Theater experience shows Evolv isn’t only the perfect solution for a venue…but it could also be what an organization like Johnson Controls needs when tasked with trying to improve security for one of its customers.

For Evolv, partnering with organizations like Johnson Controls allows us to reach even more markets and to keep even more people safe, whether that’s employees at their workplaces or visitors to venues like the Orpheum.

Johnson Controls has been offering solutions for more than 130 years. Their selection of Evolv for such a prestigious project is an important and valued testimonial to our work.

Ben Piasecki
Strategic Channel Account Manager