PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT: JRA Chosen to Design and Realize New Beijing Children’s Museum

April 25, 2014

The China National Children’s Center (CNCC), the Lao Niu Foundation and Beijing Normal University have chosen JRA for complete planning, design and project management of Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Center of CNCC (Beijing). The Center will enable children from infancy through age seven to enjoy an interactive and innovative experience of discovery. The 50 million yuan, 2,400-square-meter Center is located in the Xicheng District of Beijing and plans to formally open in January 2015.

The Discovery Center’s philosophy of education is to respect children, to value the moment when parents and their children interact with each other and to improve cooperation, attentiveness and perseverance. Children will be able to exercise their minds and bodies through observation, practice and exploration via a series of interactives and creative play experiences. They will also learn how to exercise proper judgment through testing, exploring and problem solving. Through the Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Center, the CNCC hopes to provide children with opportunities to understand the diversity of their world, discover their potential and improve their resilience in the face of challenges.

“We were honored to be chosen as the design and project management team for the Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Center,” said Mike Meyer, JRA Senior Project Director and design lead for the project. “In collaboration with the CNCC, we will strive to provide a wide space of exploration for a child’s mental, physical and emotional development. We look forward to creating another venue for China’s children to better understand themselves, their environment and their world.”

“We have retained JRA as the exhibit design and project management firm for the museum’s exhibits because they understand children’s needs and because JRA’s design philosophy coordinates with ours,” said Mr. Zhu Baoming, the head of CNCC. “JRA constantly strives for excellence and meets our expectations for quality. They are easy to communicate with, and they have a wealth of working experience in China.”

Tags: Project Spotlight

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The Mind Museum Receives Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement

April 09, 2014

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The Mind Museum - Taguig, Philippines

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Per our recent blog post, last week marked the 2014 TEA Summit and Thea Awards Gala, held at the Disneyland Resort. This weekend of events is produced by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), an international, non-profit business association representing the creators, developers, designers and producers of compelling experiences worldwide. Considered the Oscars of the themed entertainment industry, the Thea Awards Gala is celebrating its 20th year, and this year, the TEA honored The Mind Museum with the Award for Outstanding Achievement – Science Museum. Comprised of 4,900 square meters of “minds on” and “hands on” exhibits, The Mind Museum, located in Taguig’s Bonifacio Global City development, was masterplanned by JRA and is the first world-class science museum in the Philippines. The 2014 Thea Award marks the fifth time a JRA-designed project has received this distinguished honor and the first time an Asian science museum has been recognized.


The day before the bright lights, sharp tuxedos and sequined gowns of the Gala, each of the Thea Award recipients discussed the trials and triumphs of their projects in a case-study format. Representing The Mind Museum was its curator, Maribel Garcia, who stressed the importance of the project to a country rife with gifted scientists but somewhat lagging in general science education. Garcia explained that as they built the museum, she and her team of scientists also taught the exhibit teams the science that had to go into each and every exhibit. “When it came to building a science museum, the scale of which in terms of space and content, is first in our country, and that we were among the very last to do it in the world,” Garcia said, “we had a giant inferiority complex.” While JRA provided master planning, concept and schematic design for the project, 90% of the exhibits were designed and fabricated by Filipino designers, scientists and fabricators.

Throughout the fundraising, design and build process, Garcia learned (and offered) some valuable lessons:

  1. Don’t always trust the experts – particularly those who say it can’t be done and done only a certain way.
  2. When you are down to a shortlist of experts to work with, choose the ones you have great chemistry with.
  3. “Clumsy Curator’s Rule” – Be correct, clear and beautiful in that order. On that point, Garcia shared an amusing anecdote about a consultant who wanted to move hydrogen to the other end of the periodic table “so it would look nicer.”
  4. Trust your team, but carry a whistle. In other words, don’t micromanage on a day-to-day basis, but monitor your crew’s activities enough to keep things faithful to the vision, on time and on budget.
  5. Have a close ally who can translate your scientific language into something supporters (i.e., potential donors) can understand. Led by her Managing Diector Manny Blas II, VP and Head of Commercial Operation in Bonifacio Global City at Ayala Land, the Museum raised $27 million dollars in just three years.
  6. Never forget your story. It will always be your inspired banner to rally even the harshest skeptic. During construction of the facility, Garcia even went so far as to “dress up” the bulldozers as dinosaurs so that the people of Taguig and greater Manila could grasp the importance of what the museum’s team was creating. As opening day approached, her team gave the 1,000 construction workers tickets to the museum so that they and their families could enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Guided by these principles, Garcia and her team were able to create a “permanent place of wonder” for the Philippines and its people.

Photo courtesy InPark Magazine

In her acceptance speech Saturday night, Maribel touched on the hardships that have befallen the Philippines of late, but she held up The Mind Museum not just as a beautiful building and educational center, but as a beacon of hope for Filipinos:

The Philippines always breaks the record in many tragedies. We rank number three in the World Risk Index under Climate Change. Last year, we also landed the most destructive typhoon ever recorded in history. But tonight we break a happy one - we are the first science institution in the Philippines to receive a Thea and if am right, the first science museum in Asia to get one. So we would like to thank TEA for this honor.

We would like to thank our Board for trusting and actively supporting this dream. We would like to thank scientists in the Philippines and abroad for guiding our exhibits. I made cold calls and emails to "rock star" scientists everywhere, and they all answered my call. We would like to thank our artists for supporting our chosen approach. This project was created because the arts rescued the sciences.

Lastly we would like to thank our people, the Filipinos, who have come to the museum since we opened and have told us with their numbers and their reactions that "it's about time."

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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