October 31, 2011
Even co-ops Kristin Lasita, Ty Carr and Lauren Weir got in on the Halloween fun as the "1%", stepping on the lowly 99% (Sr. Project Director Randy Smith) as part of "Occupy JRA."
Food, film and fabulous costumes were on the menu at the annual JRA Halloween Party. Check below and on our Facebook page for pics and video, and have a spooktacular Halloween!
(L) No one was going hungry at this potluck! (R) Chloe James as her dad (and COO) Keith James, and COO Dan Schultz as Creative Director Randy Vuksta.
Tags: JRA Team
October 27, 2011
Welcome to another installment of Blog N' Learn, where we unravel the mysteries of museum and attraction design. In our latest series, we're offering 10 keys to creating successful museum experiences courtesy of our VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy. Last week, we learned that designing for the audience and accommodating various learning styles and demographics will help ensure maximum enjoyment and minimum boredom. But how do you keep guests coming back, and how do you make their experience extend past your exit doors? Shawn tackles these questions today with Steps 3 and 4.
Mapping our Tears, Cincinnati, OH
3. Connect on an emotional level by telling authentic, personal stories
If you want to create a truly memorable guest experience, you have to connect to guests on an emotional, personal level. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to tell authentic, personal stories from your unique history. People relate to other people, so if these stories can be told in the words and voices of those who lived them, via text panels or audio and visual presentations, these experiences can have a great impact on visitors.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
4. Deliver strong takeaway messages
The best museum experiences are those that are designed to leave guests with a strong understanding of the key messages about the subject matter. Guests want to better know what makes your subject matter special. By creating exhibit experiences that convey this uniqueness in a clear and exciting manner, guests will feel like they have gained valuable insight for having visited the museum.
While having personal stories and takeaway messages will help encourage repeat visitation, nothing kills a trip to the museum like walking in and seeing dated or cookie-cutter interactives or graphics. Shawn shares the secrets of keeping your museum current, cutting edge and one-of-a-kind in our next segment. Until then, create some museum memories with your family and friends this weekend, and thanks for reading.
Tags: Blog N Learn
October 25, 2011
It's Team Tuesday! Today we're talking politics, culinary arts and mental telepathy with JRA co-op, Tyronne Carr.
If I wasn’t working at JRA, I’d be ….
Well... pursuing what is easily my second passion; The Culinary Arts. Cooking is by far my favorite form of design and creativity. My roommate and several others can attest to my intensity in the kitchen and my desire not only for the pursuit of perfection in what I eat and serve but also my requirement for technique and most importantly, for having fun with food.
The biggest challenge being a designer is …
I think that from my personal perspective, the biggest challenge is expressing to “outsiders/non-designers” the importance and depth of the role of Design and its impact on culture, society, the environment and the lives of people. Of course, occasionally I will encounter people who don’t fully understand the influence of Design (not to be confused with “design”) and trying to elucidate how the objective of Design (for better or worse) affects so many things, can be difficult.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
For whatever reason, ever since I was a kid, I was fascinated by politics. It was after I turned 14, during the 2004 election cycle that I decided I wanted to become President of the United States. I know there are probably a good number of kids that decided this (before they realized there were other, more reasonable options) but for me, it was definitely (and still is) no bluff. Recently I read an article building up the case that you must be crazy to ever actually want to be President. Even still today, I am drawn to the game that is our political organism and would never close the door on one day, actually running for office. Call me crazy if you will (you’re probably right).
If you could have any super powers, what would they be?
I would have to say undoubtably I would choose the power to read minds and control thoughts. I probably don’t need to explain this choice because I feel the uses for this control can be predictable. Perhaps, this makes me a megalomaniac, but who besides ME really knows? [Insert super-villain laugh]
What’s a quote that describes you?
One thing about me is that I love hearing other people describe me TO me. They often present a very strange and interesting (most of the time correct) perspective that I myself can’t see. These are a couple of my all-time favorites:
“Ty is like the ultimate manifestation of evil in like the form of a really passive person.” – Jacob Jayakaran
Somewhat extreme but pretty much hits the nail on the head, ha. This next one is most accurrate:
“I tell all of my friends that they have never and will never meet another person anything like Ty Carr. He is… there are no words” – Alex Riordan
That’s right, I have the originality thing down. With all that said, the quote that I personally would choose is pure and simple:
“I’m a very neat monster.”
From none other than Showtime’s Dexter Morgan, which happens to be my favorite show, hands down.
Thanks, Ty! For our next team post, tune in Monday, where we'll discover what evil lurks at JRA's Annual Staff Halloween Party....
Tags: JRA Team
October 20, 2011
Arab American National Museum - Dearborn, MI
It's Thursday, and that means it's time for another installment of Blog N' Learn. For this 5-week series, VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy, will teach us the keys to developing memorable museum moments for guests of all ages.
Over the past twenty-four years, JRA has had the opportunity to plan, design and produce a wide range of museums –– from whimsical children’s museums to interactive sport halls of fame to immersive corporate visitor centers. Seeing a museum project grow from initial idea to opening day is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a part of the experiential design business.
What is even more rewarding is to see these projects succeed over the long-term; therefore, we wanted to share what we think are the “Top Ten” keys for creating successful museum experiences:
1. Design for the audience (interests, style and experience)
The first thing to remember as you begin to plan and design the guest experience is that you are creating for your audience, meaning that you feature exhibits, environments and stories that your audience is interested in, not just what the CEO, curator, marketing department or funder wants to talk about. During each stage of planning and design, you should ask yourself, are we really developing an experience that our audience cares about, or are we just conveying the messages that interest us? One way to ensure that you understand what your audience wants to have featured in the project is to get their input via in-person community sessions or online focus groups.
Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum - Renfro Valley, KY
2. Accommodate various demographics, interests and learning styles
Keeping with our audience-centric approach, you want to make sure that the guest experience appeals to a wide variety of demographics, interests and learning styles. There are those who are more interested in the past than the present, while others may have no interest in history. Some of your guests might like a more passive experience, preferring to look at displays and read graphic panels, while others may want a more interactive, physical experience. It is important to create a guest experience that appeals to each segment of your audience and accommodates the various ways that they would like to learn about your subject matter.
But how do you connect with your audience on an emotional level, and how do you develop strong takeaway messages? Shawn will answer these questions for us next week. In the meantime, tune in Tuesday as we profile another Jack Rouse Associates team member. Thanks for reading, and remember, if there's something you want to know about the attraction design industry or JRA, feel free to comment here, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet.
Tags: Blog N Learn
October 18, 2011
Colin Cronin, JRA Designer and Founder of OTC Sketch Comedy
Greetings! For this Outside the Studio segment, we're handing over the reigns to designer Colin Cronin. By day, he's sketching the latest and greatest children's museums, but by night, he's sketching up something a little different...
The first time I was ever on-stage was in a production of the Wizard of Oz way back in the third grade. I was cast as a munchkin and one of the Wicked Witch’s guards. By the time I chanted my first “Oreo” I was hooked.
Ever since then, I have been in at least one production every year, oftentimes more. I’ve been such varied roles as a Mute King, Judas Escariot/John the Baptist, a Microscopic Mayor, and a Hoopla Carnival Barker. (Bonus points if you can name all the plays!)
And while I love being on stage, in recent years I have started to be more involved in the production-side at the Nativity Players, the community theater group I am involved with here in Cincinnati. Every year, usually in the spring, we put on a large musical. Over the years, our group has done every production you might think of. This past year we put on Annie, using a set design provided by yours truly!
After the adventures of that plucky redhead were over, a group of Players and myself were hanging out, reminiscing, and trying to think about what we could do in the next year. What would make the 2011-2012 season of the Nativity Players one to remember? I have had several ideas bopping around in my head for a while, some of them quite out there. (One of these days I will finally put on a dramatic reading of a classic episode of the radio series, The Shadow…)
One that I was very excited about was forming an original sketch comedy group. This past fall we started meeting, started writing, and thus OTC Sketch Comedy was born. What does “OTC” mean? Well, anything from “Over the Counter” to “Offensively Tangy Chutney.” Whatever you want it to mean – it’s IMPROV!
Our meetings have been a very creative and exciting time. No topic is off-limits, and every conversation is a source of new ideas. As a group we’ve written a sketch about the dating habits of centaurs. We have a Harry Potter sketch, a Batman sketch, and a Super Mario sketch. One sketch involves a Zombie bringing his lunch to school. Our ideas have been as varied as the projects I have the chance to work on at JRA. Really, anything is possible. (Speaking of which, if someone out there has a Zombie attraction in the works, call us. Seriously.)
As with any project I work on, be it on-stage or in the design studio at JRA, eventually it comes time for the grand opening. And this Friday night, at 8pm, OTC Sketch Comedy will have our first, inaugural, premier, supreme, performance (BTW, I love synonyms.). So this week, I’ve been running around buying colonial headgear, dalmatian costumes, and fake mustaches. We have rehearsals every night, and I’m trying to remember lines and blocking for 19 different sketches. I’m exhausted and my whole body aches. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So if you’re in the Cincinnati area, be sure to come out and see us perform. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter as “Nativity OTC”. For the rest of you, search for us on YouTube for videos of all our best sketches. I hope to see some of the JRA+blog readership there!
And seriously. Zombie. Themepark.
October 13, 2011
ABCs of Design and Project Management, Part 4
To the Letter
Welcome to the final segment in our mini-series, The ABCs of Design and Project Management. Just to recap, we’ve:
• Defined the three R’s of the bidding process – RFQ, RFP and RFI
• Decoded the architectural acronyms GC, CAD, MEP, HVAC and FF&E
• Cracked the acronyms of contracts and budgets – LOI, MOU, ROM and VE
For our last post in the series, we’ll address four acronyms relating to spatial layout and guest experience. First we have Back-of-House (BOH). Back-of-house is everything in your attraction or museum that the guest does not see. This would include staff offices, maintenance rooms, AV equipment control rooms, electrical closets and any other service spaces closed to the public. While JRA will lay these out in a master plan, your architect and GC will handle the design of their actual form and function.
Conversely, everything your guest will see – the exhibits, rides, shows, attractions and media – is considered Front-of-House (FOH). These are the areas that JRA will (hopefully) design and project-manage for you. When designing your FOH spaces, JRA must keep in mind ADA requirements. ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a federal law in the United States establishing disabled access as a right. Specific guidelines have been established under this act that are required for public access to all exhibits rides and attractions. The Act regulates such items as grades of ramps, heights of counters and widths of hallways and floor spaces.
Another item to consider when designing the FOH is the ECU or Experience Capacity Unit, which is a method of estimating approximate exhibit capacity. Each gallery has an hourly holding capacity, measured by the number of people and the number of turns of experience in one hour. In other words, if you are expecting a relatively high ECU, you wouldn’t want to over-design an exhibit gallery in such a way that your guests are in perpetual people gridlock!
So, now you know your ABCs of design and project management. For our next series of Blog N’ Learns, Shawn McCoy, JRA’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, will share the 10 Keys to Successful Museum Design. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!
Tags: Blog N Learn
October 11, 2011
JRA Co-op, Kristin Lasita, clowns around for our blog.
Happy Tuesday, and welcome to another Meet the Team segment. This week, we're asking five questions of design co-op Kristin Lasita.
My favorite part of the design process is...
Although I enjoy a little bit of everything, I have to say my favorite part is to see the final product I’ve worked on fully completed and looking how it’s supposed to.
Best stress buster...
A tasty habit I’ve picked up from my friends is to make baked goods when I’m stressed out, especially at the end of a hard school quarter. It’s nice to be able to start and finish something and have a delicious result!
I’ve already had a taste of my dream vacation (for a couple of hours): Isle of Capri, off the coast of Italy. It has to be one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen. Clear ocean, blue skies, and (my favorite) some of the best places to shop in the world, as long as my dream vacation included no budget!
My favorite sandwich is...
Hands down the best sandwich I ever had was at The Naked Lunch in San Francisco. They go down to the market every morning and see what looks good then they make it for lunch. I had a skirt steak sandwich with pickled onions, tons of fresh herbs, and some sort of delicious sauce. Bonus! Comes with a freshly squeezed fruit drink (I had watermelon and basil).
Sport I enjoy watching/playing...
Actually my whole family loves sports, so I grew up watching as well. My favorites have to be football, college basketball, baseball, and then basically every Olympic sport (who knew curling could be so interesting!). I’ve been making the most of my final year at the University of Cincinnati by going to all the football games!
Thanks, Kristin! Thursday, we'll conclude our ABCs of Design and Project Management segment with a look at the acronyms for spatial arrangement and guest experience. Thanks for reading!
Tags: JRA Team
October 06, 2011
ABCs of Design and Project Management, Part 3
We’ve covered the 3 R’s of project management, and we’ve deciphered the codes of architectural design and construction. Today we’ll discuss contractual and budget acronyms. While it may seem a little dry, it’s probably one of the most important things you can learn for your business!
First we’ll start with the LOI – Letter of Intent. An LOI basically translates to, “we would like to build an attraction/museum, and if we can overcome our financing/zoning/insert-other-potential-obstacle-here, we’d like you to help us with it.” This is the least binding form of agreement. Most design/production companies will not begin work on a project on an LOI but may start looking at how they will allocate their staffing resources if the project comes to pass.
A more binding form of agreement is an L(M)OU, or a Letter or Memorandum of Understanding. This document says, “we’ve overcome the obstacles, and we’d like you to start working while we figure out the stipulations of the formal contract.” Most companies will begin project work on an MOU, particularly if the client will offer up a modest deposit or “good faith” payment.
As part of the bid process for a project, and certainly once the design process is underway, a company may be asked to provide a Range of Magnitude budget or ROM. This ranges from a +/-20% to +/-10% estimate (depending on what phase you are budgeting off of), usually based on incomplete design or production information. It is generally non-binding and should not be confused with a quotation, which is usually a tighter +/-5%. If the ROM or quotation is more than what the client had in mind, s/he may ask the design firm or fabricator to VE, or Value-Engineer, this design. Value engineering is a very fancy way of saying, “cutting the budget.” VE could entail cutting out exhibits altogether or simply using a less expensive form of materials or piece of equipment. A good example would be if the AV equipment ROM is higher than expected, the designer or client might employ a 55” monitor for an interactive rather than a 70”.
So there you have it – some simple terms that will make your business discussions a bit more comprehensible! We’ll close this blog series next Thursday with a potpourri of acronyms related to the layout of the space and the guest experience. Remember, if there’s a design term that confuses you, please let us know, and we’ll include it in a future Blog N’ Learn segment. Thanks for reading!
Tags: Blog N Learn
October 04, 2011
Patti James, COO Dan Schultz, Executive Assistant Chloe James, CEO/Owner Keith James, and Marketing and Business Development Associate Linda Round in front of the Royal Palace of Justice for the 2011 European Attractions Show
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) enjoyed record numbers (and near record high temperatures!) last week at the 2011 European Attractions Show (EAS) in London, UK. Over seven thousand visitors attended the four-day conference, arriving from more than a hundred countries. The show floor was the largest in the event’s history; 336 exhibitors offered everything from ticketing services to rides, 3D movies to attraction design.
The week began with the European Institute for Attractions Managers Workshop and included seminars on IP branding, social media, safety, human resources and waterparks. One of the highlights of the week was the EAS Gala, held at the Royal Courts of Justice. This prestigious Victorian building is one of the last great wonders of Gothic revival architecture in England and is reminiscent of a cathedral. With more than a century of history, over 1000 rooms and a three-mile labyrinth of hallways, it is one of London’s best- kept secrets. The gala featured music, dancing, a three-course dinner and an opportunity to meet other conference attendees from around the world.
First and foremost, however, having a presence at EAS offered an excellent opportunity to share JRA’s capabilities with the European audience. “We were very happy with the EAS show in London,” said Shawn McCoy, JRA’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “It was a very well organized event with solid attendance. We also participated in a number of great meetings during the course of the three-day event, so we are very excited about the future of the leisure industry in Europe.”
Be sure to check out our photo album from the 2011 EAS Gala Dinner on our Facebook page, and check back Thursday as we continue to de-mystify the various acronyms of design and project management. Thanks for reading. Cheers!
Tags: Outside the Studio