Just for Fun: Seeing Red(s)

March 27, 2013

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Business of Culture blog to celebrate one of the best days of the year – the first day of Reds baseball!

You may have seen a cropped version of the photo below on our Facebook page with the caption “Why were all these folks camping in Downtown Cincinnati last week?”


Hundreds of hopeful fans camped out in front of Great American Ballpark starting at 4 a.m. last Friday, bracing overnight temperatures as low as 19 degrees Farenheit to grab one of the 1,500 Opening Day tickets released by the Cincinnati Reds baseball club on Saturday. It was the largest crowd ever to camp outside the ballpark for tickets, and the allotment was sold out in a record 40 minutes. But for fans of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and the rest of the Reds, it was worth the wait.

In addition to enjoying the Opening Day Parade and cheering on the home team on Monday, these baseball lovers can visit the JRA-designed exhibits at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. The attraction offers 20,000 square feet of one-of-a-kind artifacts, dioramas, theaters and interactives, including:

  • • An introductory theater experience themed to resemble one of the Reds’ early stadiums
  • • A final gallery honoring legendary players who have been inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame
  • • Another gallery featuring several of the Reds’ World Series trophies
  • • An artful display of over 4,000 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s major league record for total number of hits
  • • Interactives where the guests can pretend they are a part of the team or sportscasters reporting the onfield action
  • • A highlight reel within a museum gallery themed as a fan’s basement.

Once guests have been inspired by the story of the oldest team in professional baseball, they can show their pride by updating their Redswear at the Team Shop, also with elements designed by JRA.

Monday’s parade will travel right outside our office windows, so check out Facebook and @jratweets for some great shots. And GO REDLEGS!

Next week, we’ll rejoin our series on The Business of Culture by visiting a local hotel where “museum” is literally the name of the game.

Tags: Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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The Business of Culture: The Impact of Museums on Property Values

March 20, 2013

Massachusetts Center for Contemporary Art.  Photo credit: The Core Blog (www.bu.edu/core)

Massachusetts Center for Contemporary Art. Photo credit: The Core Blog (www.bu.edu/core)

Per last week's post, over the next several weeks we'll be examining the impact of museums on economic development: from tourism to urban planning, employment to entrepreneurship.  In this segment, we'll assess the the relationship between cultural assets and real estate valuation.

According to the Americans for the Arts’ report The Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, “nonprofit arts and culture organizations pay their employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets from within their communities.” But do they also affect residential and commercial property values by attracting re-investment in neighborhoods?

The impact of museums on housing prices in particular is a subject that has been sparsely studied. In fact, after four days of research, I finally came upon a paper by Dr. Stephen Sheppard of the Center for Creative Community Development (C3D), stating “EconLit identifies only 550 references to research on museums, and only 11 of these have to do with housing. The number of research papers that address museums and house prices: zero.” Imagine my reaction: “yay, I’m not crazy!” combined with “well there goes that blog.” Luckily, in the rest of his paper, entitled “Museums in the Neighborhood: The Local Economic Impact of Museums,” as well as in his subsequent research, he actually draws a strong correlation between the introduction or renovation of a museum in a community and an increase in home values.

Dr. Stephen Sheppard of C3D.  Photo credit: IAAPA

Sheppard runs C3D at Williams College in Massachusetts. In a 2006 paper entitled, “Culture and Revitalization: The Economic Effects of MASS MoCA in its Community,” Sheppard, along with colleague Kay Oechler and students Blair Benjamin and Ari Kessler, examined the effects of the opening of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams. The visual and performing arts center moved into a brownfield site formerly occupied by the Sprague Electrical Factory in 1999.

Photo by Kevin Kennefick for MASS MoCA

Sheppard et al compared the change in house prices from before the opening of MASS MoCA (May 1999) with post-opening figures to identify the impact on property values directly attributable to the museum. They performed a hedonic analysis to account for the other factors that affect housing prices, such as property age and size. Because this brownfield site had been left relatively untouched since the Sprague’s departure in 1986 and offered few (if any) community conveniences, pre-1999 housing prices were generally higher the farther one moved from the site. After 1999, however, structurally similar houses held the same value regardless of their proximity to MASS MoCA, meaning those areas closest to the museum saw an increase in value per property of $11,000 (2004 dollars). The positive impact radius was about 1.7 kilometers from the site, encompassing most of the homes in North Adams.


Photo credit: MASS MoCA

If the properties within the affected 1.7 km radius are aggregated, this total increase in property values was nearly $14 million at 2004 price levels, generating a potential annual property tax increase to the community of $195,491. In addition to the residential property increase, the introduction of MASS MoCA subsequently led to $11 million in extraordinary investments in the form of a Holiday Inn hotel and the renovation of several nearby houses into a small luxury inn. This growth happened without a corresponding increase in gentrification, as the composition of the community remained generally stable during the study period. Sheppard et al have performed subsequent studies in other communities across the country, and while the degree of the impact has varied (due to factors such as the size of the study community), the positive relationship between the infusion of an artistic amenity into the community and property values has remained clear.

Inspired by C3D’s research, I decided to perform my own highly un-statistical analysis of the effect of cultural amenities on rental rates. I performed a Google search on “museum apartments” and came up with a host of results. In Philadelphia, the average one-bedroom within ten miles of the city center costs $1,045 per month. But its Museum Towers, which make “discovering the joys of the Museum District a daily ritual,” offered rents of $1,445. Museum Place, “located in the heart of the iconic Cultural Arts District of Downtown Portland [OR]” offered rents of $1,815 for a one-bedroom apartment, versus $910 on average. Even in my own community of Cincinnati there seems to be a correlation. I moved into my current downtown apartment in 2005. Shortly thereafter, a major renovation of the historic Fountain Square, located four blocks from my house, took place via a public-private partnership. The Square is now a haven for visual artists, performance groups and musicians, with programming seemingly 24/7. Since then, rents on an identical apartment in my building have increased a total of 41%, or 5.1% annually, compared to an average annual inflation rate of 2.5%. Now there are most certainly additional motivators at play here, including economic incentives and the introduction of other neighborhood amenities, but it’s hard to deny that proximity to cultural institutions is a strong selling point for rental properties and houses alike.

Fountain Square, Cincinnati.  Photo credit: UrbanCincy.com

By increasing attractiveness, offering recreational opportunities and providing a place for community interaction, museums are creating a positive shift in both home and rental prices, providing additional property tax revenue for their localities and bringing residents into previously vacant neighborhoods.

In our next post, we’ll visit a renovated local hotel that’s distinguishing itself by employing a museum as the core of its business strategy.


Tags: Blog N Learn , business , JRA Journeys

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The Business of Culture: Museums and Economic Development

March 13, 2013

How has The Mind Museum driven the development of Taguig, Philippines?  Find out in an upcoming post.  Photo credit: Philstar.com

How has The Mind Museum driven the development of Taguig, Philippines? Find out in an upcoming post. Photo credit: Philstar.com

Most people (particularly in this industry) won’t argue that museums and cultural institutions are integral to the life-blood of urban environments. We at JRA certainly believe in the power of museums to educate, engage and entertain, and we strive to design and realize the best exhibits for our clients and their audiences. But what about the role of museums in the greater economic spectrum? Are museums good for business? Can they positively drive a community’s bottom line?

Over the next several weeks, we’ll explore the role of museums in economic development, including their effect on real estate, urban planning, employment and tourism. Along the way, we’ll travel to New York, Dublin and Manila, and even share some case studies from right here in our hometown of Cincinnati.

And for the first time at JRA+blog, we are crowdsourcing our posts. Have an example of a museum that has economically transformed its city or region? What about a mixed-use development driven by a cultural anchor? Has the creation of a museum or cultural institution led to an increase in job attraction or retention, or an influx of complementary businesses (restaurants/retail) in your community? Email me at crice@jackrouse.com, and you could find your case study (and name) in an upcoming JRA+blog post.

We hope you enjoy this series, and we’ll see you on the interwebs next week!

- Clara Rice
Editor, JRA+blog

Tags: Blog N Learn , business , JRA Journeys

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The TEA Experience Cafe: Introducing the Next Generation of (Literal) Game Changers

March 06, 2013

Blogger-in-Chief, Clara here.  Last Friday, I had the opportunity to meet 25 talented graduate students at the launch of the Themed Entertainment Association’s TEA Experience Café.  The Café, an initiative of TEA’s Next Generation Committee, aims to introduce university students and recent graduates to the themed entertainment industry in a casual, interactive setting, while providing access to those working directly in the field.  After eight months of planning, Friday marked the official launch of the initiative and was held at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This is what greets you on the fifth floor of ETC.

Established in 1999, the ETC offers a two-year Masters of Entertainment Technology degree, and many of the students use their degree to foray into the gaming industry.  Step off the elevator, and you’re immediately transported to a world of storm troopers and spaceships, Gollum figurines and skeeball machines.  During my tour, I was introduced to several of the 18 projects currently being developed at the school, including a collaborative slot machine experience, a multi-platform Army training exercise, and a Risk-type game where participants use their collective singing voices to affect the result.  It was an inspiring afternoon, and I was excited to hear more from the students individually.

The student lounge.  I mean, I had to try my hand at skeeball, right?

Dennis Bateman of Carnegie Science Center and Christian Lachel of BRC dine with the students before the presentation.

The format of the evening was part presentation, part professional speed dating.  Christine Kerr of BaAM Productions, Christian Lachel of BRC Imagination Arts, Josh Jeffery of the Warhol Museum, Dennis Bateman of the Carnegie Science Center and I provided insights on our careers and organizations, and the students found that their backgrounds weren’t that different from those on the panel.  Dennis also treated us to an impromptu science experiment featuring a Fuji film canister, Alka-Seltzer, water and a spontaneous explosion.


Josh helps Dennis with his scientific demonstration.

During the Q&A, my advice to the students came from the playbook of my now retired mentor, Rick Steele:

  1. Fast, cheap, good.  You can only have two.
  2. “I don’t know” is the smartest thing anybody ever says.
  3. You can only shave time off the project at the beginning.
  4. The most important day of a project is its opening.

I also delved from my own experience and encouraged them to “be nice to little old ladies,” because you never know whether the 84-year-old woman sitting next to you at a focus group will be the person that gets you your next job (as happened to me with JRA).

Once in the one-on-one sessions, I discovered that the students had varied backgrounds.  One worked in construction.  Another performed in musical theatre.  A third came from a computer science background.  A common denominator for many of them was that they had no idea that working for a Disney, Universal, BRC, JRA or BaAM was even a possibility, and their eyes had been opened to new career paths.  

From left - Christian Lachel, yours truly, Josh Jeffery, Shirley Saldamarco, Dennis Bateman and Christine Kerr

Shirley Saldamarco, ETC faculty member, felt the evening had a profound impact on her students: “The students appreciated the 1:1 opportunity to show their portfolios and get direct feedback from industry professionals.  They were amazed at how approachable, down-to-earth and supportive everyone was.  The biggest surprise was they said the sessions helped them discover opportunities in the themed entertainment industry for people like themselves with such diverse backgrounds (music, arts management, cruise ships, etc).  Even students at our Silicon Valley campus weren’t left out, since they participated in interviews via GoToMeeting.  From all the emails and personal comments I received, everyone involved had an enlightening experience and enjoyable time.  I’m still not quite sure who had more fun – the guests or the students.”

I certainly had a great experience, and I look forward to keeping up with the students' progress and seeing where they land.

Are you interested in becoming a TEA Next-Gen member?  Visit the TEA Next-Gen membership page for details, and thanks for reading the JRA blog.  Next week, we’ll begin a multi-post blog series on how leisure attractions are increasingly being used to drive economic development in urban environments.

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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Jack Rouse Associates Wins Cade Museum Exhibit Design Competition

March 04, 2013

The Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention, located in Gainesville, Florida, is pleased to name Jack Rouse Associates (JRA) from Cincinnati as the winner of the museum's exhibit design competition.   The contest drew 27 entries from design firms in the United States and Canada.  Named by The Wall Street Journal as "one of the world's most prominent design firms," JRA has provided designs for the Kennedy Space Center, The Henry Ford Museum, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Washington Monument Interpretive Center, and over 50 other museums, science centers, and visitor centers throughout the U.S. and the world. 
Together with GWWO Architects from Baltimore - selected last October - Jack Rouse Associates will build a world-class museum in downtown Gainesville.  Focused on inspiring creative thinking, future inventors, and early entrepreneurs, the Cade Museum is named after Dr. James Robert Cade, the University of Florida physician who led the team that invented Gatorade in 1965.   The Museum is slated to open in October 2015, marking the 50th anniversary of Gatorade's first use in a football game.  
For more information, please contact Richard Miles at rmiles@cademuseum.org. 



Tags: Project Spotlight

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Charlee 5:53PM 03/13/13