27 Inches to Life Size - Transforming a Design Into a Built Reality

March 24, 2017

Rachel Daheim, Designer

Rachel Daheim, Designer

We've have a special treat for our blog readers today as designer Rachel Daheim shares the experience of her first project installation.

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As a young designer at JRA I have the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting projects throughout their design phases. From visioning documents, storyboards, renderings, schematic drawings, shop drawings, architectural plans and more, I get to see almost the entire life span of a project unfold on my 27” computer screen. Recently, I was given the opportunity to step away from my desk and to participate in the final phase of a project's life, the install. Being able to work on a project throughout the design process and then to see it come full circle, not to mention full scale, has been an incredible journey.

This journey began almost a year ago when myself and several other members of the JRA design team traveled to Daytona, Florida to meet with representatives of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America or MSHFA. We toured their newly acquired facility, located just a few yards from the famous Daytona Speedway. The design brief was to take this new facility and create a series of exhibits and galleries that encompassed the full spectrum of motorsports: cars, motorcycles, off-road, powerboats and airplanes. Our goal was to embody the spirit of racing and create a place that would pay tribute the drivers and operators of the fastest machines in America.

This was a very exciting project to work on. The design team faced many unique challenges throughout the project, including suspending historic cars 30 feet into the air, mounting speedboats on top of walls, and placing several racing vehicles on a stretch of track banked at 45 degrees in the center of the museum.

 

After weeks of supporting the project from behind my computer screen in Ohio, I was asked to travel to Florida and participate in installing the final gallery, which was a total thrill. The design for the final gallery grew out of a collaborative effort between the MSHFA and the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. It would showcase the life’s work of Hot Rod magazine owner and creator, Robert E. Petersen, and the impact he had on the world of racing.

 

On the first day of the instillation, we arrived on site to find that our staging area was to be shared with catering services, a demolition pile of old exhibits, and various props and displays from the Daytona Speedway. JRA Art Director and project lead, David Ferguson, was unfazed and wasted no time in organizing and setting a plan in motion. Before I knew it, teams of fabricators, lighting designers, technicians, and AV designers filled the gallery.

I had always imagined an install to progress in a sequential series of defined phases. For example…

Phase 1: Lay the carpet
Phase 2: Install artifacts in the case
Phase 3: Hang lights and focus on case
Phase 4: Incorporate AV and sound

It was quite a shock to find that most of these task progress simultaneously. Carpet being laid, fabricators were arranging artifact cases, and the lighting team was on ladders hanging lights - all at the same time in the same space! The work was done at a fast pace but executed very precisely. So I began the task of learning the complex dance of working amidst the various teams moving in and out, working around, over, and under each other while carrying out their assorted tasks. I could see that there was a method to the organized chaos, but it was not until day three I felt that I could keep up with the pros.

One of my first tasks on sit was to work with David to unpack the large crate of artifacts we received from the Petersen Automotive Museum. It was a unique learning experience to witness the extremely carful and thoughtful consideration that goes into the arrangement of each artifact. It was exciting to carefully handling each delicate article as we strategized their arrangement.

On the final day of the install, our staged artifacts had to be carefully moved to the gallery and placed inside the display case. This was easer said then done. The case itself was suspended 10’ in the air and some distance away from the elevated walk way. It was quite the scene seeing our amazing fabrication team from Nassal send a member into the suspended case and then, through carful instruction, set each artifact in place. Final, all that was left was to lift an extremely heavy panel of glass up over the railing and set it into the case. This extremely difficult feat had to be done with out nudging or knocking the artifacts out of place. We all held our breath as Nassal’s entire team lifted the heavy glass and inched it slowly into position. The panel was locked into place and the artifact case was sealed. It was a great end to a busy install.

The finalized gallery was incredible to walk through and see first hand. But even more rewarding was seeing all the different moving parts, the various team members, and the process of the physical creation during the install. It was an unbelievable experience to be apart of the final chapter of the design process and see what had only been a 27-inch drawing on a computer screen, come to life.

 

 

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team

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Project Opening: Motorsports Hall of Fame Crosses the Finish Line

March 22, 2017

Many of racing’s greatest names were on hand at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s (MSHFA) recent opening at Daytona International Speedway.

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA) is the only hall of fame that encompasses the full spectrum of American motorsports: cars, motorcycles, off-road, powerboats and airplanes. Holding its first induction ceremony in 1989, the facility was headquartered in Novi, Michigan from 1989-2015 and relocated to Daytona Beach, Florida in 2016.

JRA (Jack Rouse Associates) provided complete planning, design, project management and art direction for MSHFA’s nearly 23,000 square feet of refreshed exhibit space, with exhibit fabrication by The Nassal Company, audiovisual integration by Electrosonic, and lighting design by Abernathy Lighting Design. The new and renovated exhibits reflect the MSHFA’s mission to celebrate and instill the core values of leadership, creativity, originality, teamwork and spirit of competition embodied in motorsports.

Artifacts and graphics honor the pioneers and master racers of Florida’s motorsports heritage, as well as drag racing, aviation, motorcycles and powerboats, sports cars, stock cars, open wheel racing and the racing world at large. In addition, the interactive Expanding Car exhibit features the innovations in the stock car industry that separate the street vehicles we all drive from the specialty speedster’s craft.

At the end of the Hall of Heroes – a dramatic display populated with legendary motor speed vehicles cutting the full height of the building – is a circular pavilion that houses plaques honoring the most recent inductees to the Hall of Fame. After a year, these inductees will join their fellow heroes in their respective fields.

Standing next to this open gazebo is a tribute to one of the icons of the racing industry, Robert E. Petersen. His fame and success as a publisher is only matched by his profound love of motorsports. Noticing an absence of hot-rod specific media, he founded Hot Rod Magazine, and eventually built his empire on automotive publications. A towering marquee leads visitors to a large theater that celebrates Petersen’s accomplishments and features other racing films. The Petersen Theatre serves as a testament to the passion that motorsports have inspired in fans the world over.

As part of the long-awaited opening ceremony, the MSHFA held a formal ribbon cutting, featuring the unveiling and dedication of the Petersen Theatre. Distinguished guests at the ceremony included MSHFA inductees Bobby Allison, Richard Childress, Tom D’Eath, Hurley Haywood, Rusty Wallace and Humpy Wheeler.

“The racing immortals who were with us...helped us usher in a new era for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America,” said MSHFA President Ron Watson. “The compelling stories of all of our inductees – our ‘Heroes of Horsepower’ – collectively form the foundation of our new facility. Combine those individual histories with our many classic racing vehicles and our other exhibits, and you have a hall of fame that is truly a ‘must-see’.”

 

Tags: Project Spotlight

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Designing with Flair: A Fresh New Look for the JRA Studio

February 21, 2017

After 10 years of wear and tear, and upon renewing our commitment to Downtown Cincinnati with a new long-term lease, we decided to freshen up our studio with new paint, carpet and accessories. JRA Art Director, David Ferguson, explains the design philosophy behind the look:

"While retaining the unique atmosphere of JRA’s open studio plan, we chose a warmer neutral palette to play off strong paint color accents of Carnival, Peppercorn, Stay in Lime, and Passionate Purple. Designer Rachel Daheim worked with Interface Carpet and designed a basket weave pattern of Skinny Plank carpet with the same color accents in the woven carpet material. New artwork was brought in to provide additional dimension, and images of our past projects brightened up our work space and reminded us why we do what we do everyday. 

All in all, by reassigning the accent palette and juicing up the color intensity, we have given a more jubilant look to our workplace, making our work environment as cutting edge as our design attitude."

Enjoy the photos, or better yet, why not pay us a visit?

 

Tags: JRA Journeys

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Out of This World: Mission Mars Now Open at Space Center Houston

February 16, 2017

...Now anyone can get as close to Mars as any human will, any time soon, by visiting [Space Center Houston]. - Ars Technica

The “next big thing” has just opened at Space Center Houston. The spectacular new Mission Mars exhibit showcases an immersive experience about the red planet and offers an opportunity to peer inside an Orion spacecraft research model, stand close to a giant model rocket and walk on a virtual Mars environment.

Space Center Houston has enjoyed a spate of recent successes. Independence Plaza, which opened in January 2016, helped the center reach a record annual attendance of over one million visitors and captured two Brass Ring Awards at the recent International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. JRA provided completing planning, design and project management for Independence Plaza.

This new multi-million-dollar Mission Mars interactive exhibit, designed with input from NASA experts, opens as the nonprofit also kicks off its 25th anniversary year. JRA has again provided planning, design and project management.

“This new major exhibit will inspire the next generation of explorers who could one day walk on Mars,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. “Visitors will explore what it takes to travel to Mars, the hardware that will get us to the fourth planet in our solar system and how humans may live and conduct research on the red planet in future decades.”

Space Center Houston worked closely with NASA in the development of Mission Mars. A stunning 4K technology video shows a virtual Mars landscape with rovers exploring the planet, a future rocket launching from Earth and heading for Mars and future astronauts landing. The exhibit puts visitors in the astronaut’s seat of an Orion simulator and allows them to record their own historic messages as they take their first steps on Mars. A collection of three rare Mars meteorites is on display inside the exhibit for a limited time, plus there is a special Mars rock visitors can touch. There are only 60,000 known meteorites on Earth, fewer than 150 are from Mars and most of those are held in private collections.

The future-looking exhibit takes visitors to a Mars landscape and features a look at how Mars and Martians have been illustrated in pop culture; the wealth of potential scientific discoveries to uncover on Mars; the innovation needed to build the most advanced spacecraft; and what returning to earth from deep space involves. Understanding the evolution and formation of Mars is the first step of the journey in the new exhibit. The physical terrain is explored through virtual landscapes provided from an orbiting satellite and surface rovers. The experience allows visitors to leave their footprints on three different types of Mars surfaces, study Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, and seek evidence of water and water erosion as keys to finding evidence of possible life on Mars.

Visitors are able to peer inside a full-size Orion research model used by engineers from NASA Johnson Space Center and Lockheed Martin. The exhibit includes a magnificent 45-foot 1/8th scale model of the Space Launch System, which will be the most advanced and powerful deep space rocket ever produced. The SLS will use four RS-25 engines to help propel astronauts further into space than any rocket in history. Visitors can walk around one of these engines in the display. Touch-screen activities provide an opportunity to explore Mars, suit up an astronaut and pack for the long trip. Astronauts will face a unique set of challenges to sustain life and conduct experiments deep in the solar system. The exhibit shows how resources will be conserved and what techniques will be used to grow fresh food to sustain astronauts and reduce payload.

NASA’s Office of Education provided a grant through the Competitive Program for Museums, Science Centers, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers. These grants are designed to create interactive exhibits to engage the public, students and teachers in NASA-themed science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Lockheed Martin provided the Orion capsule research model, along with financial support for the exhibit construction. Space Center Houston is holding a jubilee celebration all year to honor its 25th anniversary on Oct. 16. The activities include the debut of several new exhibits, special events and a thought-leader speaker series.

For more information on Space Center Houston, please visit www.spacecenter.org. Congratulations to the entire Mission Mars team!

Tags: Project Spotlight

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The Final Fives: Talking Teleportation, Post-Its and the Sound of Music with Katlyn Morris

February 10, 2017

Katlyn Morris

Katlyn Morris

A new year brings new co-ops to the JRA team. This week, we ask five questions (plus a bonus!) of Katlyn Morris, Industrial Design student at the University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP).
 
If I had one extra hour in the day, I would … spend it with my family. Hours are always better spent with them!

I would advise anyone starting out in a creative career to … try everything and anything! Even though I’m just starting out, I’ve found the best part of creative careers is the endless opportunities.

I wish I had come up with … Post-its 

What are your favorite movies? My all time favorite: The Sound of Music

If you could have any super powers, what would they be? To teleport or to fly! It would be a much easier way to travel.

Dream experience design project: American Girl world park—I’ve always loved American Girl dolls, and it would be a childhood dream come true to bring that world to life!

Thank you, Katlyn! We hope you enjoy your time at JRA. 

Tags: JRA Team

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