Babies, Birds, Bikes and The Fonz: JRA's 2014 Year in Review

December 21, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Year in Review.  The "Year of the Horse" was very good for JRA - bringing new projects, new people and lots of adventures.  We couldn't have had enjoyed our successes without our fabulous team, partners, and clients (and blog readers!), so thank you for your support.  Here's a look at some of the year's highlights:

March 2014

Keith James presents “Defining Your Story” (from a wheelchair, no less!) at the IAAPA Leadership Conference in San Francisco California. The presentation offers techniques for creating compelling museum and attraction experiences through storytelling.

Designer Teresa Johns serves as graphic designer and box office manager for a theatrical production of Working, directed by fellow JRA designer, Colin Cronin. Teresa would go on to provide graphic, photography and ticketing support for seven other shows this season.

Senior Project Director Randy Smith participates as a "red" in a High Art "Diner en Couler en Plein Air", a performance art piece on the roof of the Aronoff Performing Arts Center.  The "piece" was performed to be visible from the observation deck of Cincinnati's art deco Carew Tower.

April 2014

The Mind Museum receives the Themed Entertainment Association’s Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement – Museum. This is the first time an Asian science center has been selected.

Keith James is quoted in Delta’s SkyMiles Magazine’s “Member Review” section. He should know about air travel – Keith has logged a lifetime total of over 6.4 million Delta miles!

May 2014

JRA attends the 2014 Association of Children’s Museums’ Interactivity Conference and is a proud sponsor of the conference’s Small Museum Financial Aid Program. JRA launched the program in 2009 to provide five selected individuals with complimentary registration to Interactivity and tickets to all three evening events.

June 2014

The JRA-designed KidsSTOP™ opens at Science Centre Singapore. KidsSTOP is the first children’s science center in Singapore. While designed for children aged 18 months to 8 years, VP of Marketing Shawn McCoy couldn’t help but get it on the fun.

Chloe James Hausfeld pens her first “Conference World Tour Journal” for the 2014 Asian Attractions Expo, offering readers a glimpse of not only the conference but also of Beijing and the Philippines. Hausfeld also shares her Amsterdam stories from September’s European Attractions Expo.

Shawn McCoy presents on the panel “Intellectual Property: 5 Tips for Success” at the Asian Attractions Expo.

Photo courtesy Blooloop.

Sochi Park opens in the Russian seaside town of the same name. JRA provided overall master planning, concept design and schematic design for the 20.3-hectare park.


The Grand Hall at St. Louis' Union Station unveils a new 3D light, video and sound show for its 65-foot ceiling. The experience, dubbed the largest multimedia show in North America, includes a musical soundtrack and narration to slides and videos portraying St. Louis history and culture. JRA provided storyline development and scripting for the experience, which was produced by Technomedia.

July 2014

“Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science Behind a Global Phenomenon” debuts at Dubai World Trade Centre in the UAE. The STEAM-based, 10,000-square-foot traveling exhibit, a partnership between JRA, Imagine Exhibitions and Rovio, remains in Dubai through the summer before venturing to Doha, Qatar.

August 2014

The newly renovated and expanded South Carolina State Museum opens. JRA provided planning, conceptual design and environmental graphics for the State Museum’s telescope gallery, retail store and common areas.

Project Management Assistant and Russian native Ekaterina Batt is sworn in as a United States citizen. Kate moved to the US as an exchange student in 2005.


September 2014

JRA hosts the Themed Entertainment Association’s first-ever Cincinnati event – OkTEAberfest! Attendees enjoyed panel discussions, a tour of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a visit to the Cincinnati Comic Expo (where this blogger got a hug from The Fonz!) and the nation’s largest Oktoberfest celebration.

Randy Smith continues the red theme for 2014 and joins the Cincy Red Bike Program. He currently ranks #22 in the entire city for number of miles ridden.

October 2014

JRA welcomes its littlest team member – Keith’s grandson (and Chloe’s nephew), August ("Auggie") John McDonald. 8 pounds 5 ounces of non-stop adorable…

Clara Rice completes the Queen Bee Half Marathon, her fourth. She surprises even herself when she can walk through the office under her own power the next day.

The JRA-designed Crayola Experience makes Parents Magazine’s list of “10 Trips to Take Before Your Child Turns 10”.

Just in time for Halloween, designer Colin Cronin performs in an evening of original sketch comedy called “Scary Fun” with his troupe, The Company Productions.

Speaking of Halloween…

November 2014

The IAAPA Expo is a big week for JRA!

  • • Shawn McCoy presents on the Museum Day “Emerging Trends in Museum Design” panel, and Clara Rice presents on the “TEA Presents Future Legends: Transforming Experience” panel.
  • • Chloe James Hausfeld wins a bronze medal at the IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K run (her third medal in three years!).
  • • The Grand Hall Experience at St. Louis Union Station receives the IAAPA Brass Ring Award and is named a 2015 Thea Award recipient.
  • • Members of the JRA team participated in a Guinness World Record event at the GM and Owners Breakfast: most people launching handheld model gliders simultaneously.
  • • To document the spirit of the 2014 IAAPA Expo, JRA produces and shares its first ever “IAAPA…in 2 Minutes or Less” video to great social media acclaim.

JRA attends its first-ever MAPIC conference. This retail conference was held in Cannes, France, and Senior Project Director Rob Morgan and Assistant Operations Manager Dana Everhart were on the scene.

December 2014

Dan Schultz is heavily quoted in Rinksider Magazine: “The Voice of the Roller Skating Industry”. He advises rinks on how they can take queues from themed attractions to create immersive environments for their skaters.

JRA hires Rachel Daheim as a full-time member of the design team. Rachel, a recent SCAD graduate, co-oped with JRA this past summer.

JRA participates in the St. John/Mercy Health Circle of Giving program. The program distributes gifts to over 200 families, helping more than a thousand adults and children each year, and JRA has participated for over ten years.

So that's 2014! What will 2015 bring? Find out in our first post of the year on January 7th. In the meantime, from all of us to all of you, best wishes, for a healthy, happy holiday.

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT: JRA Adds Rachel Daheim To Its Full-Time Team

December 15, 2014

Rachel Daheim, JRA's Newest Designer

Rachel Daheim, JRA's Newest Designer

JRA is happy to announce that we have added Rachel Daheim to our full-time design team. Rachel has been a JRA co-op since June, so we know that her talent and enthusiasm will be a great asset to JRA and our clients.

Here's a little more about Rachel:

When it comes to design, Rachel is a true Texan, a hard working individual who dreams and thinks big. Her diverse background, versatile skill set, and strong work ethic enable her to excel as a member of JRA’s creative team.

Rachel graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production Design and a minor in Themed Entertainment Design. During her time at SCAD, Rachel had the opportunity to work in a variety of disciplines: film, theater, animation, graphic design, advertising, and user experience. She collaborated with firms such as Walt Disney Imagineering and Hewlett Packard, where she designed environments with a high volume of interactive technology to create memorable experiences.

Rachel has left Texas behind to join JRA’s creative team in creating cutting edge attractions and unforgettable experiences around the world. She has provided design and schematic support for exhibits, shows, rides and attractions on various projects in China, Russia, and the Middle East, as well as here at home. Rachel is currently working on a family entertainment center scheduled to open next year in St. Petersburg, Russia. For more information on Rachel, and examples of her work, check out her website, and join us in congratulating her on this new adventure.

Next week, we'll wrap up 2014 with our annual Year in Review blog, featuring babies, bikes, birds and a host of other surprises!

Tags: JRA Team

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Conference World Tour 2014: Mapping Out MAPIC with Dana Everhart

December 10, 2014

As we mentioned in a previous post, JRA was pleased to attend its first ever MAPIC Conference.  The show, which welcomed over 8,400 retail developers, designers and creators to Cannes, France, offered three days of product demonstrations, networking events and educational opportunities. Two of those lucky delegates were our own Dana Everhart and Rob Morgan, and Dana was kind (and lucky!) enough to share her impressions of the conference, and of the French Riviera. 


Day One

To kick things off on Monday, we spent time strolling LaCroisette, which is a mile-long promenade that gives incredible views of the Mediterranean and the rolling Estérel hills as well as exploring the nearby town. This also happened to be the walking path to and from the MAPIC convention, so we were able to get the lay of the land and make sure we knew exactly where to go once the doors opened Wednesday morning.


Rue Meynadler is lined with charming 18th-century houses, which have been repurposed as boutiques, selling everything from trendy and (relatively inexpensive) clothing to wine and cheese.

Day Two

After an initial day of sightseeing (and jet lag recovery), it was time for MAPIC!  At 8 a.m., the doors opened for the newcomers welcome meeting and tour.  This meeting explained the floor layout and gave advice on how to best navigate the show floor.

Day Three

The show floor was absolutely packed with people and all the booths were busy. We managed to talk to a few people but concentrated primarily on the seminar sessions given by industry colleagues.

Some of these sessions included: advice to mall owners and retailers about how they could gain a competitive edge by using entertainment / cultural anchors to bring more foot traffic into their stores, the design approach to best integrate entertainment and retail, how retailers and mall owners could learn a lot from the attractions industry about lengthening stay and how to increase spending and lastly, current trending and growth markets like China, Russia and Turkey.

Day Four

On the final day of MAPIC, the tradeshow floor was less crowded, so it was a great time to meet and talk with some of the show exhibitors and admire some of the fabulous retail projects that are in the near future.

Hey, look - it's Rob!

Day Five

The day after MAPIC wrapped, a fifteen-minute boat ride from Cannes landed my husband and I on the island of Sainte-Marguerite, where marked trails took us on a botanical and historical tour of the site.

We explored Fort Royal and the Musée de la Mer, which once held the Man in the Iron Mask captive. The excursion was a nice break after the frenzy of the conference.

Day Six

A short ride through the mountains and we were in Monaco touring sites like the Monte-Carlo Casino and the Place du Palais.

While traveling to Monaco we came across Eze and spent the day in the quaint medieval Mountain-side village with that hosted a variety of of shopping, restaurants, and breath taking views.

MAPIC was overall a great experience, and it certainly proved that retail (and in particular, themed retail, or "retailtainment") is alive and well.  We met some fantastic people, saw some great sights, and learned a lot about the themed retail industry. Looking forward to next year!


Thank you Dana for the update, and thank you readers for following us on our Conference World Tour 2014.  Next year, our journeys will take us to Dubai, Anaheim, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Hong Kong, Liseberg, Montreal, Orlando and back to Cannes, so stay tuned!








Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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The Grand Hall Experience Receives Multiple Awards at 2014 IAAPA Expo

December 03, 2014

The 2015 Thea Awards will be presented March 21 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

The 2015 Thea Awards will be presented March 21 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) recently announced that the “Grand Hall Experience", an immersive video and sound experience installed in St. Louis Union Station, has received the 2015 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement Live Show (Limited Budget) and the IAAPA Brass Ring Award for Show Production and Entertainment/Displays and Sets. Part of a $66.3 million restoration project of the Grand Hall, the experience takes the audience from through a journey of adventure, illusion and exciting historic recreations through a series of inspiring vignettes projected on the Hall's walls and ceilings.  The Brass Ring Award was presented at last month's Expo, while the Thea Award will be presented Saturday, March 21, 2015 in a lavish ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

The Thea Award, created in 1994, recognizes excellence in the themed entertainment industry. The recipients of the awards are judged on guest experience, innovation/originality, creativity and viability. More than a hundred achievements compete every year, and TEA bestows between 12 and 18 awards at their annual Thea Awards Gala. Technomedia, Mood Media’s Creative Innovation Division, designed this award-winning installation for the owners of Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM), Bob and Steve O’Loughlin, who were searching for a solution to drive traffic to Union Station and the adjacent bar and hotel. Technomedia provided the concept, design, media and technology turn-key to revitalize the historic landmark with the dramatic audiovisual content. Offered several times nightly and free to the public, the show is the first of its kind in the United States. The show was created and directed by John Miceli, President and Chief Creative Officer of Technomedia, in collaboration with JRA. The 2015 Thea Award makes Grand Hall Experience the seventh Technomedia project and sixth JRA project to receive this honor.

“It is an honor to be recognized with the Thea Award for the Grand Hall Experience. The large, incredibly detailed 65-foot ceilings made for a fantastic and challenging creative canvas,” said Miceli. “Along with Bob O’Loughlin, Chad Smith and Steve O’Loughlin of LHM, our collaborative team led by Drew Atienza worked meticulously to turn the lobby venue into one of St. Louis’s most exciting and popular new attractions. We plan to keep the experience fresh with new content and even allow college students of film and creative design to create their own vignettes and art for the show in 2015. We are excited to continue working with LHM bringing more new and exciting experiences to Union Station.”

The installation, designed to incorporate the architecture without disturbing it, employs 14 high-resolution projectors, 10-channel surround audio, 4k digital media servers, consolidated control, LED lighting and narration by St. Louis notables John Goodman, Bob Costas and John Hamm. For a video of The Union Station Grand Hall Experience, see below.



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