Designing with Flair: A Fresh New Look for the JRA Studio

February 21, 2017

After 10 years of wear and tear, and upon renewing our commitment to Downtown Cincinnati with a new long-term lease, we decided to freshen up our studio with new paint, carpet and accessories. JRA Art Director, David Ferguson, explains the design philosophy behind the look:

"While retaining the unique atmosphere of JRA’s open studio plan, we chose a warmer neutral palette to play off strong paint color accents of Carnival, Peppercorn, Stay in Lime, and Passionate Purple. Designer Rachel Daheim worked with Interface Carpet and designed a basket weave pattern of Skinny Plank carpet with the same color accents in the woven carpet material. New artwork was brought in to provide additional dimension, and images of our past projects brightened up our work space and reminded us why we do what we do everyday. 

All in all, by reassigning the accent palette and juicing up the color intensity, we have given a more jubilant look to our workplace, making our work environment as cutting edge as our design attitude."

Enjoy the photos, or better yet, why not pay us a visit?


Tags: JRA Journeys

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Appleton Estate Rum Tour to Pour Out a Blend of Experiences

December 05, 2016

Woody, earthy, balanced, sweet and complex. These are the words often used to describe the world's premium rums. But they can also be used to describe the Appleton Estate Rum Tour, which recently broke ground in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. 

Appleton Estate has the distinction of being Jamaica’s oldest sugar estate and rum distillery in continuous production and is the producer of many of the world’s most premium rums, including the Appleton Estate 50-year-old Jamaica Independence Reserve.

The Appleton Estate renovation project includes approximately 23,000 square feet of new building construction, as well as an expansive outdoor tour of the Estate grounds, distillery, and aging house that highlights the history, ingredients, and process of crafting premium rum. In addition to the outdoor exhibits, guests will also enjoy a welcome theater, “Estate only” custom tasting experiences, a restaurant and lounge area with traditional Jamaican jerk fare, photo opportunities, and a retail store that features exclusive rum offerings. JRA is providing complete planning, design and project management for this attraction, which is scheduled to open in October 2017.

Ready to book your flight (or fill your glass)? Be on the lookout for more updates as construction progress, and check out our Facebook page for more groundbreaking photos. 


Tags: JRA Journeys , Project Spotlight

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Emerging Trends in Immersive Design: A 2016 IAAPA Presentation

November 28, 2016

JRA VP Shawn McCoy presents

JRA VP Shawn McCoy presents "Emerging Trends in Immersive Design as part of Museum Day at the 2016 IAAPA Expo.

For the sixth year in a row, JRA Vice President, Shawn McCoy re-capped the blockbuster attractions of 2016 with Thinkwell Principal, Cynthia Sharpe as part of "Emerging Trends In Immersive Design" at the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo.

In their presentation, Shawn and Cynthia discovered that guests are craving community as much as personalization, quiet as much as noise, a step back to simplicity as much as modern technology. The result is an ecclectic mix of "Best of the Best" case studies, from London to Chicago, from a hilltop in Barcelona to the phone in your hand. While the techniques may differ, all of these projects aim to tell stories in unique and compelling ways. 

As usual, the session played to a capacity crowd, to the point where dozens of eager audience members were turned away at the door (fire codes - not our fault!). If you were one of them, or if you couldn't make it to Orlando, you're in luck! Shawn was kind enough to record his presentation over the slide deck, so click below and enjoy. 

If you are interested in a PDF version of the slide deck and script, please email Clara Rice at


Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team

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Independence Plaza Wins Big at IAAPA

November 22, 2016

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has honored Space Center Houston’s one-of-a-kind exhibit Independence Plaza with two Brass Ring Awards: first place Best New Product for Displays and Sets and the Impact Award. The international awards were bestowed Wednesday, November 16 at the IAAPA Expo Brass Ring Awards Ceremony.

“We are extremely honored and appreciative that our world-class exhibit received the most prestigious attractions industry award from our colleagues at IAAPA,” said Space Center Houston’s President and CEO William T. Harris. “The exhibit complex would not have been possible without the exceptional support and expertise from JRA as well as the incredible generosity of NASA, Boeing and our community making it an unprecedented learning experience for generations to come.”

Image courtesy IAAPA

Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. The organization represents facility, supplier and individual members from 99 countries. The IAAPA Brass Ring Awards recognize outstanding new products and services developed by IAAPA’s manufacturer and supplier members operating in an attraction.

The awards are divided into categories, and the Displays and Sets Award recognizes excellence in the theming and design of an exhibit or attraction. The Impact Award is one of the most prestigious of the Brass Ring Awards program. It is awarded to a category winner that, in the opinion of the judges, had or will have the most impact on the amusement parks and attractions industry. Independence Plaza is the 11th JRA-designed project to win the Brass Ring Best New Product Award and the first to receive the Impact Award.

Since opening in 1992, Space Center Houston has welcomed more than 18 million visitors and currently hosts 1 million visitors annually in its 250,000-square-foot educational complex. It is one of Houston’s top destinations, the area’s No. 1 attraction for international visitors, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center and the only Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area.

Earlier this year, Space Center Houston unveiled its largest project since opening – the $15 million Independence Plaza. Visitors can enter the original shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905, and the shuttle replica Independence mounted on top. It is the world’s only shuttle mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft and the only one allowing the public to enter both.

Multiple exhibits grant a rare glimpse into the historic shuttle era and describe its impact on current and future exploration. Fitting Space Center Houston’s educationally focused mission, the exhibits explore problem-solving concepts, possible career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and examples of innovation from the shuttle era.

JRA provided complete planning, design and project management for Independence Plaza and is honored to be bestowed with such a distinguished recognition.

About the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation

The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws 1 million visitors annually, was called “The Big Draw” by USA Today and generates a $73 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. More than 100,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to take part in extraordinary learning opportunities. For more information, go to

Congratulations to all of the 2016 IAAPA Brass Ring Award Winners!

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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Chloe's Autumn Adventures Part 2: Making a Splash in New Orleans

October 25, 2016

For Part 2 of her Autumn Adventures on the Conference World Tour, we travel with Chloe back across the Atlantic to the city of jazz, beignets and the 2016 World Waterparks Association Show.


Funworld Magazine has already dubbed 2017 “The Year of the Water Park.” At JRA, we are seeing a ton of waterparks coming up in our overall master plans, and our clients are becoming more and more interested in them in general. With that said, we figured it was time for us to head back down to the World Waterpark Association Show in New Orleans to check out the buzz.

Tuesday, October 11

I arrived late in the day on Tuesday, but made sure to get to town in time for dinner. I got settled in at the hotel, and then went to a charming dinner at Square Root with Walt Bowser (Baynum Painting), Marc Gran (Cedar Fair), Mary Jane Brewer (Recreation Engineering Inc.), and Trevor Leonard (Six Flags White Water).

Walt (Baynum Painting) and I exploring.

Wednesday, October 12

Walt (Baynum Painting) and I decided to tackle the show floor with one another. There was a happy, laid back feel to the show that was refreshing for a newcomer. It was extremely welcoming, and so great to see lots of familiar faces.

Couldn’t be happier to see these two; Gary Slade (Amusement Today) and Michael Turner (Neptune Benson).

After several hours wondering the show, seeing familiar faces, and meeting new people, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening event.

Snack before the reception…my life has been forever changed by Drago’s charbroiled oysters.

The WWA Annual Reunion Party was held at the hotel. In true New Orleans fashion, the music was fun, and the people were having a great time.

Happy to catch up with Alice Mathu (IAAPA), Michael (Neptune Benson), Franceen Gonzales (WhiteWater), and Deb Eicher (Scruffy Dog).

Thursday, October 13

My long time friend (since I was 5 long time), Tess Schuster, moved to New Orleans years ago. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at one of the Ruby Slipper’s before I headed to the show floor.

My kindergarten buddy.

Day 2 of the trade show was another great opportunity for networking with old, and new friends. As a usual exhibitor, it was a nice change of scenery for me. Being able to see what a trade show floor truly has to offer, without having to rush my way through it, brings a whole new flavor to the experience. I gained knowledge about the industry, and became more excited about JRA’s potential.

WWA trade show floor.

LOVE this girl…Emily Colombo (WhiteWater).

The closing reception was held at the Pat O’Brien’s On The River. The event was packed, the networking was great, and no one wanted to leave.

Left – The one and only George Sells (Water Technology Inc.).
Top Right – Close up with Deb (Scruffy Dog) and Richard Jackson (IAAPA)

Bottom Right – Hanging with some of the WhiteWater crew; Paul Chutter, Steve Heke and Scott Haycock.

Friday, October 14

I was lucky that my cousin from Chicago, Kyle Judge, was in town for an annual trip with some friends at the same time as my trip. We were able to catch up for brunch before I headed to the airport.

Enjoying the company at one of my favorite spots in NOLA, The Court of Two Sisters.

After one of my favorite Uber rides of all time, I made it to the airport in time to catch Paul (WhiteWater) for a quick goodbye and re-cap of the week, before I was on my way myself.

I just love getting home to my 80lb. lap pup

Thanks Chloe! Check back with Chloe on the final stop of our 2016 Conference World Tour, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando, Florida. 

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team

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