The JRA Time Machine: Partying Like It's 1999

October 31, 2012

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LEGOLAND California

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As millions of people wondered whether the world would end on Y2K, JRA was busy completing planning and design of its second LEGOLAND® park, along with a number of projects that celebrated American history and innovation. And JRA was incredibly honored to receive a major compliment from one of the world's more prominent newspapers.

In the Studio:

  • • In a January 27th article in the Wall Street Journal, Timothy Aeppel refers to JRA as "one of the world's more prominent design firms."
  • • JRA wins “Best of Show” for its expo booth at Exhibitor Show ‘99.
  • • The second JRA-designed LEGOLAND® park opens in Carlsbad, California. As with its Windsor counterpart, JRA works closely with the LEGO group to produce a unique family theme park dedicated to the imagination and creativity of children.
  • • Also opening are several JRA-designed sports projects, including halls of fame for The Ohio State University, the University of Kentucky, and Michigan State University, as well as the Indiana Pacers’ Conseco Fieldhouse, which houses a retail store, bar and several guest interactives.
  • • JRA completes a number of projects in 1999 that celebrate American History, including The Douglas MacArthur Memorial, The National Park Service’s Washington Monument Interpretive Center, the “Early Space Exploration” exhibit at Kennedy Space Center and master planning for the Battleship Missouri Memorial.
  • The JRA team at the Washington Monument.
  • • On the “pure fun” side, Navy Pier adds the JRA-produced “Amazing Chicago” to its list of attractions. With its special effects, music and narration, “Amazing Chicago” brings the Windy City its first full-sensory maze experience.
  • • JRA adds Bjorn Kemper to its team to work on Volkswagen Autostadt. Thirteen years later, the German native will receive his American citizenship.

And outside:

  • • The euro is established on January 1.
  • • Bill Gates’ personal fortune exceeds $100 billion, due to the increased value of Microsoft stock.
  • • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is released in theaters and becomes the highest-grossing Star Wars film of all time.
  • • After 22 years of restoration work, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper is placed back on display in Milan, Italy.
  • • Napster, the groundbreaking music-downloading device, debuts.
  • • In Rome, Hicham El Guerrouj runs the fastest mile ever recorded, at 3:43:13.
  • • The ExxonMobil merger is created, forming the largest corporation in the world.
     

The JRA team clowns around while hosting a stop on the Cincinnati Designer's Saturday Studio Tour.

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The JRA Time Machine: 1998 Was Grrreat!

October 30, 2012

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Kellogg's Cereal City - Battle Creek, Michigan, USA

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1998 was a busy year for all of JRA’s markets, with the openings of new museums and theme park attractions, along with a variety of brand experiences and sport destinations. Around the world, a search engine giant is born and French football fans have reason to celebrate.

Elephants, harness racing and…cereal?

  • • Kellogg’s Cereal City opens in Battle Creek. Jack Rouse Associates provided the overall creative thrust for this 45,000-square-foot facility, which was designed to entertain visitors while informing them of the phenomenal impact that the cereal industry and Kellogg's products have had on American culture. Later that year, Kellogg’s Cereal City wins JRA its fourth IAAPA Best New Product Award in three years.
  • Mike Passaro with Tony the Tiger
  • • The Pachyderm Exhibit at the Columbus Zoo also opens this year. Jack Rouse Associates worked with the Columbus Zoo's staff to create interpretive elements that teach visitors about African elephants, Asian elephants and rhinos.
  • • JRA continues its long-running collaboration with Six Flags, with the opening of the Boomtown themed area at Six Flags Over Texas. Through the use of themed architecture, detailed facades, authentic props and environmental signage, JRA helped the Arlington theme park re-create a deserted Texas oil town from the late 1800s.
  • • Openings of JRA-designed museums include the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, “All About You” at Cincinnati History Museum and the Jack Nicklaus Museum.
  • • Heather Witt joins JRA. Heather was previously a marketing consultant to JRA through International Marketing Partners in London. Rick Steele and David Ferguson are also hired to work on the brand experience Volkswagen Autostadt.

The Moon, football and…bears?

  • • NASA announces that the Clementine probe orbiting the Moon has found enough water in polar craters to support a human colony and a rocket fueling station.
  • • France beats Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup Final.
  • • Bear Grylls, then 23, becomes the youngest British climber to scale Mount Everest.

  • • Google, Inc. is founded in Menlo Park, California, USA by Stanford University PhD candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

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The JRA Time Machine: 1997 - Back to the Future

October 28, 2012

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Turner Field Braves Plaza and Scouts Alley - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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Happy 10th Birthday, JRA! 1997 was another year of big changes and new markets, as the company returns to its former name, wins its first international award, and forges into the Asian market.

As Rouse-Wyatt again becomes Jack Rouse Associates:

  • • JRA wins its first Thea Award (annual given by the Themed Entertainment Association) for DAYTONA USA (now Daytona 500 Experience).
  • • JRA’s love affair with Ted Turner continues, with the opening of Braves’ Plaza and Scouts Alley at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. USA Today praises Turner Field as a “baseball theme park…a place where 20th century tradition meets 21st century technology.”
  • • Mr. Freeze™ Rollercoaster opens at Six Flags Over Dallas in Texas and at Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri. JRA designed the themed exteriors and interiors for this Batman and Robin-themed ride.
  • • JRA makes its first foray into the China market with planning for “Grand View of the Yellow River,” a cultural theme park near Zhengzhou blending history and entertainment into a family attraction. JRA provided master planning and conceptual design services and coordinated the handoff of its design efforts to local architects in Asia.

Meanwhile:

  • • A series of widely sighted unidentified flying objects (UFOs), called the “Phoenix Lights,” are seen over Phoenix, Arizona in the United States.
  • • Microsoft buys a $150 million share of then-struggling Apple Computer.
  • • The UK hands sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. Later that year, Scotland and Wales both vote in favor of devolution and the creation of their own parliaments.
  • • Princess Diana dies in a Paris car crash. Mother Theresa passes a week later.
  • • The first color photograph appears on the front page of the New York Times.
  • • James Cameron’s Titanic becomes the highest grossing film of all time. It will be surpassed by another Cameron film, Avatar, twelve years later.

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The JRA Time Machine: 1996 - Start Your Engines

October 26, 2012

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The Daytona 500 Experience - Daytona, Florida, USA

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An influx of fresh faces arrives at Rouse-Wyatt Associates in 1996. In addition to new talent, a new industry emerges, as the company takes on its first sports attraction. Elsewhere in the world, a computer outsmarts a human, a sheep is cloned and one Las Vegas legend disappears to make way for another.

1996 for Rouse-Wyatt:

  • • DAYTONA USA (now Daytona 500 Experience) opens in Florida, marking Rouse-Wyatt’s first sports attraction project. This 50,000-square-foot visitor center is the front door to the 28 racing events held at Daytona every year.
  • • Rouse-Wyatt completes its first zoo project, “Wings of the World,” at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Rouse-Wyatt was responsible for the conceptual and schematic exhibit design and final graphic design for this renovated birdhouse.
  • • The Rouse-Wyatt team also completed complete design and project management for the “Place Your Bets” exhibit at Louisville’s Kentucky Derby Museum. Visitors learn how to handicap, read racing forms and place a bet.
  • • LEGOLAND® Windsor opens in the United Kingdom. The project is Rouse-Wyatt’s first European theme park.
  • • A bevy of fresh talent arrives at Rouse-Wyatt. Paul Galati arrives as Manager of Information Systems and helps us maneuver through the morass of the new-fangled Windows 95. Future Senior Project Director Brian Donahue arrives from the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Design Architecture Art and Planning (DAAP). Mike Meyer also comes on board from the Cincinnati Museum Center. And future Creative Director Randy Vuksta joins the team, bringing with him a knowledge of architecture and a flair for fashion.

1996 for the world:

  • • Motorola introduces the StarTAC Wearable Cellular Telephone, the world’s smallest and lightest mobile phone to date.
  • • Chess computer “Deep Blue” defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov for the first time.
  • • The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas is imploded to make way for the Venetian Hotel.
  • • Steffi Graff defeats Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the longest ever women’s final at the French Open to win her 19th Grand Slam title.
  • • Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born in Midlothian, Scotland.
  • • Kofi Annan is elected by the UN Security Council as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations.


 

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The JRA Time Machine: 1995 - Bats and Barney

October 25, 2012

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Warner Brothers Backlot - Six Flags St. Louis

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A black bat and a purple dinosaur dominated the project landscape of Rouse-Wyatt in 1995. Meanwhile, we begin to see technological innovations that still shape the way we do business today.

Within the Rouse-Wyatt studios:

  • • The Warner Brothers Backlot opens at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri, featuring the Batmobile Plaza, Batman the Ride, Gotham City Park, Gotham cityscapes, two theaters, a studio commissary, a 1950s burger restaurant and a 1920s gas station. Rouse-Wyatt provided complete master planning and design for all of these elements within the Backlot.
  • Matthew Wheeler, Scot Ross, Trey Frank and Tom Montchai with characters from the Warner Brothers Backlot.
  • • “A Day in the Park with Barney,” designed by Rouse-Wyatt, opens at Universal Studios Florida. Rouse-Wyatt provided complete master planning and design for this Barney-themed children’s attraction and play area.
  • • Future Assistant Project Manager Clara Rice graduates from high school in the Atlanta suburbs and heads for the prairie to find a university education (and lots of corn) in Grinnell, Iowa.

Around the world:

  • • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is established to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
  • • Astronaut Norman Thagard becomes the first American to ride into space aboard a Russian launch vehicle (the Soyuz TM-21). Later that month, cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returns after setting a record for 438 days in outer space.
  • • For the first time in 26 years, no British soldiers patrol the streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • • South Africa wins the Rugby World Cup, a feat that will later be immortalized in the American film Invictus, with Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela.
  • • In digital news, the DVD is born, and eBay is founded.
  • • The Dayton Agreement to end the Bosnian War is reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, 60 miles from the Rouse-Wyatt offices.

 

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The JRA Time Machine: 1994 - Big Changes

October 24, 2012

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CNN Studio Tour

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1994 was a year of tremendous change for Jack Rouse Associates. A new partnership was created; a new market emerged and multiple projects opened across the Western Hemisphere.

Doors open here:

  • • Jack Rouse Associates and Wyatt Design merge to form Rouse-Wyatt Associates.
  • • Rouse-Wyatt forges into the brand experience realm, beginning design and production work for the CNN Studio Tour at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. The tour opens to the public four years later.
  • • Rouse-Wyatt begins design and planning for LEGOLAND® Windsor, its first European theme park project. The team, working closely with the LEGO group, provided design of visitor attractions, play elements, attractions master planning, operations planning, architectural planning, themed signage and graphics and scripting and set/costume design for live shows.
  • • The “Heartsong Theater“ opens at Dollywood. Other openings completed projects include the AEGIS Theater at Nauticus – The National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia, and INTEL’s “More Than You Can Ever Imagine” Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit.
  • • Shawn McCoy joins Rouse-Wyatt as Director of Museum Services.

…and abroad:

  • • The Winter Olympics take place in Lillehammer, Norway, marking the first time that the Winter and Summer Games are not held in the same year.
  • • Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” is stolen in Oslo. It is recovered four months later.
  • • A photo by Marmaduke Wetherell, previously touted as ‘proof’ of the Loch Ness Monster, is confirmed to be a hoax.
  • • The first conference devoted entirely to the subject of the World Wide Web’s commercial potential takes place in San Francisco. The first version of the web browser Netscape Navigator is launched a month later.
  • • South Africa holds its first fully multiracial elections, marking the final end of apartheid.
  • • The Channel Tunnel, which took 15,000 workers over 7 years to complete, opens between England and France.

 

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The JRA Time Machine: 1993 - A Royal Year

October 23, 2012

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American Royal Museum - Kansas City, Missouri

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1993 not only brought a royal welcome for two new members of the JRA team, it also brought new exhibits to the American Royal Museum. Meanwhile, across the world, some borders were shifting as others disappeared altogether.

In the Studio…

  • • Dan Schultz joins JRA from Kings Island, where he was Manager of Entertainment, Attractions and Guest Services.
  • • Senior Project Designer Jeff Lichtenberg joins JRA after leaving Bruce D. Robinson Associates, bringing with him his colorful and detailed rendering style. Senior Project Director Scot Ross also arrives, bringing his talent for graphic design and his love of the Marx Brothers with him.
  • • JRA completes planning and design for exhibits at the American Royal Museum and Visitor Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The museum is an interpretive addition to the American Royal, a non-profit organization that has been a fixture in Kansas City for over 100 years. The exhibits, which JRA produced with LORD Cultural Resources, emphasized the scientific aspect of agriculture and the impact it has on our daily lives.

…and out:

  • • The European Economic Community eliminates trade barriers and creates a European single market.
  • • Vaclav Havel is elected President of the Czech Republic.
  • • The Buffalo Bills (American football team) become the first team to lose 3 Super Bowls after losing to the Dallas Cowboys 52-17.
  • • The Clint Eastwood cowboy epic Unforgiven wins the Academy Award for Best Picture. Eastwood will also win for Best Director.
  • • The Holocaust Memorial Museum is dedicated in Washington, DC.

  • • For the first time, the general public is allowed inside Buckingham Palace.

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The JRA Time Machine: 1992 - Keith Joins the Team

October 22, 2012

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Fievel's Playland - Universal Studios Florida - Orlando, Florida, USA

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In 1992 future JRA CEO/Owner Keith James joins the firm as a partner, just as JRA opens a project for his former employer – Universal Studios Florida. Meanwhile, Barcelona welcomes the world with the Olympics, and the popular music scene continues to get grungier.

Around the JRA office:

  • • In January, Keith James joins Jack Rouse Associates as President, having previously served as Senior Vice President of Planning and Development at Universal Studios, Florida.
  • • Six months later, Fievel’s Playland opens at Universal. Based on Steven Speilberg’s animated film “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West,” Jack Rouse Associates designed a myriad of “mouse-built” play elements in this one-of-a-kind playground.
  • • Matthew Wheeler, now Senior Project Director, also joins Jack Rouse Associates, eventually becoming a “go-to guy” for science center projects.
  • • Jack Rouse Associates joins the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide.

And around the globe:

  • • Barcelona, Spain hosts the 1992 Summer Olympics, resulting in a major tourism boost to the city.

  • • The “grunge” music scene explodes in Seattle, United States, bolstered by the success of the album Nevermind by the band Nirvana. Flannel shirts and sour expressions become “de rigeur” in fashion.
  • • The Maastricht Treaty is signed, forming the European Union.
  • • The Euro Disney Resort officially opens with its theme park, Euro Disneyland. It will later be named Disneyland Paris.

  • • The Toronto Blue Jays become the first non-American team to win the World Series.
  • • Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd President of the United States.
     

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The JRA Time Machine: Getting It Done in 1991

October 19, 2012

Bill Miller, JRA Co-Founder Amy Merrell, current JRA VP of Production Ron Bunt and Jack Rouse at Wyoming Territorial Park

Bill Miller, JRA Co-Founder Amy Merrell, current JRA VP of Production Ron Bunt and Jack Rouse at Wyoming Territorial Park

1991 brought transition to Europe and the Soviet Union and the birth of a new business association for the themed entertainment industry. For JRA, it meant the opening of two JRA-designed museums – one celebrating Ohio’s river history, and another chronicling the history of the American West.

Around the JRA office:

  • • Cincinnati History Museum opens, including the Public Landing Gallery designed by JRA a year earlier.
  • • Wyoming Territorial Park opens. The park was created to accurately depict the 19th Century American West, with particular emphasis on the High Plains. JRA’s project team designed the museum interior and researched and displayed its artifacts.
  • • The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) is founded by Monty Lunde and a dozen other theme park executives. Less than a decade later, Keith James will serve as president.
  • • Anita Daugherty joins Jack Rouse Associates as Executive Producer of Media and Film.

And Elsewhere:

  • • The Visegrad Agreement, establishing cooperation to move toward free-market systems, is signed by the leaders of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.
  • • American television channel Comedy Central is launched.
  •  
  • • Edith Cresson becomes France’s first female premier.
  • • In response to the end of Apartheid, the International Olympic Committee readmits South Africa to the Olympics.
  • • Otzi the Iceman is found in the Alps. He is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived about 3,300 BCE.
  • • The Cold War officially ends after 44 years when the Supreme Soviet meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union.
     

 

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The JRA Time Machine: 1990 - New Markets for a Freer World

October 18, 2012

A new decade brought new markets for JRA, as the studio began its foray into museum design and production, while continuing to develop cutting-edge theme parks and attractions around the world.

Around the JRA office:
• JRA designs its first museum exhibit, Public Landing Gallery at the Cincinnati Museum Center, which features at 98-meter-long replica steamboat and immerses guests in a recreation of 1860s Cincinnati. The exhibit is still one of the Center’s most popular 22 years later.


• JRA teams with Wyatt Design to design and produce Dollywood’s “Heartsong” theater, an innovative environmental theater celebrating the life and music of Dolly Parton.
• Ron Bunt, now VP of Production, joins Jack Rouse Associates as a resident technical director and project manager. He will go on to produce the “Heartsong” theater attraction, as well as the Cincinnati Reds Museum and Hall of Fame, the World of Coca-Cola, and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

Around the globe:
• The Leaning Tower of Pisa is closed to the public due to safety concerns.
• The first McDonald’s in Russia opens.
• Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison after 27 years behind bars.


• American rapper MC Hammer releases his megahit “U Can’t Touch This,” resulting in widespread fashion and dance trends.


• Twelve paintings, valued from $100M-$300M are stolen from a Boston art museum by two thieves posing as police officers, marking the largest art theft in US history. The paintings remain unrecovered.
• The Hubble Space Telescope is launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.


• The Cincinnati Reds, led by such legends Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey, Sr., win the World Series by sweeping the Oakland Athletics.

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The JRA Time Machine: 1989 - Walls are Built; Walls are Broken

October 17, 2012

COO Dan Schultz's various business cards over the years...

COO Dan Schultz's various business cards over the years...

Author Tom Clancy warned us of a Clear and Present Danger. The band Chicago told us to “Look Away.”   The people of Germany destroyed the wall that divided them, and the iron curtain fell. 1989 brought new talent to JRA, and a new spirit of freedom to the world.

In JRA history:

  • • Rob Morgan joins JRA as a designer. Little does he know that, as Senior Project Director two decades later, he’ll become the “go-to guy” for all petroleum-related museum projects.
  • • Future Senior Project Director, Randy Smith also joins JRA. He’ll later go on to work on such projects Volkswagen Autostadt, LEGOLAND parks in California and the UK and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
  • • Future JRA COO Dan Schultz is promoted to Manager of Entertainment, Attractions and Guest Services at Paramount’s Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio.

And elsewhere:

  • • Time, Inc. and Warner Communications merge to form Time Warner.
  • • The Exxon Valdez oil spill sends 240,000 barrels worth of oil into the Prince William Sound.
  • • The popular television show Seinfeld premieres.
  • • Disney-MGM Studios opens to the public, and the Wonders of Life pavilion opens at EPCOT.
  • • Tiananmen Square protests result in a declaration of martial law in Beijing.
  • • The Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • • East and West Germans tear down the Berlin Wall after checkpoints between the two countries are opened for the first time in almost three decades.

 

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The JRA Time Machine: Making a Date for 1988

October 16, 2012

1988 was a year of cool runnings...

1988 was a year of cool runnings...


It was the year George Michael told us to have Faith. The year a Jamaican bobsled team glided for the gold. A year when jeans were acid-washed, hair was still huge and bomber jackets were on trend. This was 1988.

In JRA history:

  • • JRA begins planning and design for its first museum project – the “Settlement to 1860’s” exhibit at the Cincinnati History Museum.
  • • Future JRA Senior Project Designer Jeff Lichtenberg joins Bruce D. Robinson Associates as a Lead Project Designer.
  • • John Nagel, Senior Project Designer, joins JRA, bringing his architecture and planning experience to the one-year-old company.

Shell Oil live show

Also in 1988:

  • • Soviet Union begins its perestroika program of economic restructuring and withdraws its troops from Afghanistan.
  • • Rain Man, with scenes shot in JRA’s hometown of Cincinnati, wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • • World Expo ’88 opens in Brisbane, Australia.
  • • Enzo Ferrari, founder of the renowned Italian automobile manufacturer, dies at the age of 90.  Twenty-two years later, his iconic car would be the subject of the world's largest indoor theme park.
  • • Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds pitches only the 12th perfect game in baseball history.
  • • George H.W. Bush is elected President of the United States, becoming the first sitting Vice President in 200 years to do so.

Enzo Ferrari

 

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The 25th Anniversary Time Machine - 1987: When It All Began...

October 15, 2012

JRA is celebrating 25 years of planning, designing and realizing theme parks, museums, sports attractions and visitors centers around the world. To commemorate this milestone, we’re taking you in the wayback machine to revisit 25 years of JRA, while also reminiscing about important events in history, sport and pop culture.

While JRA did not formally incorporate until 1987, the firm’s founders had known each other since the 1970s, as original CEO Jack Rouse taught current CEO Keith James, current COO Dan Schultz, and former CFO Amy Merrell while he was a professor at the University of Cincinnati. After a stint at Taft Broadcasting Company and subsequently Kings Entertainment Group, Rouse founded his own company with Merrell, and Jack Rouse Associates was born.

So, here are some memorable moments from 1987:

In JRA history:

  • • Jack Rouse leaves Kings Entertainment Group.
  • • Rouse and Amy Merrell found Jack Rouse Associates.
  • • Once incorporated, Rouse and Merrell decide to foray into the tradeshow production business.  Their first tradeshow client was hair regrowth company Rogaine, but other clients included Chevron and Novell BrainShare. 
  • • Future JRA CEO Keith James begins work at Universal Studios Florida as Senior Vice President, Show Production.
  • • Future JRA Vice President, Marketing & Business Development graduates from Wilmington High School.

Other historical events in 1987:

  • • Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • • Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor wins the Oscar for Best Picture
  • • Michael Eisner and Jacques Chirac sign agreement to construct Disneyland Paris.
  • • Portugal and China sign an agreement to return Macau to China in 1999.
  • • The Simpsons cartoon first appears as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.

  • • Ronald Reagan tells Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down this wall.”

 

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South Carolina State Museum Breaks Ground on Expansion

October 11, 2012

Artist's rendering of the addition to the State Museum, exterior view - Clark Patterson Lee, Watson Tate Savory Liollio /Clark Patterson Lee, Watson Tate Savory Liollio

Artist's rendering of the addition to the State Museum, exterior view - Clark Patterson Lee, Watson Tate Savory Liollio /Clark Patterson Lee, Watson Tate Savory Liollio

Today marked the groundbreaking of the $23 million renovation and expansion of the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. The museum hopes that this transformation will help propel its mission to entertain, inspire imagination and creativity, and enrich the lives of visitors by expanding opportunities for creative collaborations with other cultural organizations.

The project features a state-of-the-art observatory, housing the vintage 1926 Alvan Clark 12-3/8” refracting telescope, a 55-foot digital dome planetarium and theater, a renovation of the current auditorium to accommodate a 4D theater, new gallery exhibit space for the world-renowned Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy telescopes and optics of the Ariail Collection. JRA was retained by SCSM as thematic design consultant. JRA’s scope of work included planning and conceptual design, interior and exterior environmental graphics, concept and schematic design for the new retail store, materials and finishes selection, and design input for much of the common areas, which included enhanced guest service and meeting capabilities within the museum.

For more information, click here.
 

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JRA Brings New Jim Beam Experience to the Bourbon Trail

October 05, 2012

JRA recently completed the design and realization of the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse and Distillery Tour in Clermont, Kentucky, which celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday. The new attraction provides guests with an authentic experience, bringing them closer to the process and history of this 218-year-old brand.

Jim Beam’s new visitor center comprises three distinct yet interconnected parts: the American Stillhouse, the Distillery Tour and the American Outpost tasting room. The Stillhouse is a recreation of a period stillhouse building, complete with a 40-ft high copper column still that houses the facility’s main elevator. Within the Stillhouse, guests can view a variety of exhibits, including a media scrapbook that introduces them to the heritage of the Beam Family, the distillery and the brand. This family history is also told through static and rolling graphics as well a media piece shown on a 103” monitor, and an additional video illustrates Jim Beam’s role in popular culture. Visitors can limit their journey to just the Stillhouse or buy a tour ticket at the counter and meet their guide.

The introduction of the Distillery Tour marks the first time that Jim Beam has opened its factory doors to the public. The tour meanders through both the small and large batch production processes, providing guests with the opportunity to compare and contrast the intimate experience of handling the mash of the small batch line with the heat, smell and scale of the 10,000-gallon large batch fermentation vats. Small- and large-batch bottling processes are also explored, before the guest caps their tour in the packaging and distribution room, where a display of hundreds of artful, limited-edition decanters awaits. All of the production areas featured within the guest experience are part of authentic, working operations, producing the same Jim Beam and Knob Creek bourbon enjoyed around the world. Throughout the tour, guests meet the real stars of the show – the Jim Beam staff. JRA knew that Jim Beam’s greatest strength was its people and looked for ways to leverage this asset throughout the design process.

After the tour, thirsty visitors can make their way to the state-of-the-art American Outpost tasting room. In contrast to traditional bourbon tasting experiences, JRA created a cocktail-party atmosphere with the introduction of the Enomatic – a wine-serving system adapted for bourbon for the first time. Guests are given a tasting card and are briefly introduced to the different brands. They then have the power to choose which two samples they would like to drink.

The American Stillhouse, Distillery Tour and American Outpost tasting room offer the guest an authentic, interactive experience that coincides with Jim Beam’s tagline of “come as friends, leave as family.” A full month before its completion, CNN Travel ranked the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse and Distillery Tour as one of the “World’s Best” – sight unseen and solely based on its vision and proposed enhancements. Jim Beam aims to increase visitor numbers from 80,000 to 250,000 with the new attraction, catapulting it from the lowest rated tour on the Trail to the highest.

"Our visitors' center is a testament to both our treasured heritage and our exciting future,” said Jim Beam President and CEO, Matt Shattock, at the opening. “Beam is the world's #1 bourbon, and now it has bourbon's #1 visitors' experience. We're thrilled to bring our flagship Jim Beam brand to life in an entirely new way for all the brand's fans and consumers around the world."

JRA, along with fabrication partner Geograph Industries, Inc., AV integrator Anacore, Inc. and lighting designer Kathy Abernathy Lighting Design, provided complete planning, design and project management for the American Stillhouse, Distillery Tour and American Outpost tasting room.

Next week, we'll begin a journey through 25 years of JRA, re-visiting JRA's landmark projects as well as important milestones in history and popular culture.  So, break out your Chuck Taylors and grab some Aquanet, because Monday we're heading all the way back to 1987!
 

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CEO Keith James: "Listen First"

October 04, 2012

Keith James, image courtesy Blooloop

Keith James, image courtesy Blooloop

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the SATE conference (Storytelling, Architecture, Technology and Experience) was held at the Hotel Newport Bay Club, Disneyland Paris Resort September 19-21. This conference is the mainstay of the Themed Entertainment Association’s annual schedule and was only the second time SATE had visited Europe. The TEA’s plan for future events is for SATE to alternate between European and North American locations, on an annual basis, with further expansion into the Far East when appropriate.

The theme for 2012 was “Cultural Diversity in Creating Successful Guest Experiences: Obstacles or Opportunity?” and was hosted by Yves Pépin, indepedent show producer and SATE 2012 co-chair and Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President and Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

JRA's CEO Keith James participated in the second session of the first day, dealing with the issue of:

“From Concept to Means: How They Go Through the Cultural Borders.”

Keith used two JRA projects as examples of his key message, which was “Listen first… especially if you’re American”.

Our friends at Blooloop covered Keith's remarks, and you can check out their feature here.

Next week, we'll visit the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse and Distillery Tour.
 

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Five Questions We Ask Potential Clients

October 03, 2012

We look forward to seeing you at EAS!

We look forward to seeing you at EAS!

October 9-11 marks the next stop on our Fall 2012 Conference World Tour: the European Attractions Show (EAS). Hosted by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), this year’s show is the largest EAS ever, with over 350 exhibitors and 8,000 attendees. In case you have a project in mind and would like to visit us at Booth 410, here are five questions we typically ask potential clients:

  1. What type of project is it? Theme park? Museum? Visitor Center? Sports Attraction? Is it heavily themed? Educational? Media-driven?
  2. Where is the project located?
  3. What is the approximate size of the project?
  4. Is there an approximate budget? How is it funded?
  5. What is the schedule for the project? Completion date?

As our conversation continues, we will ask more in-depth questions about the scope of work, any feasibility work completed, and how the project will be awarded, but these five questions will serve as the foundation for our partnership with you.

We look forward to seeing you in Berlin next week!

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