March 24, 2017
Rachel Daheim, Designer
We've have a special treat for our blog readers today as designer Rachel Daheim shares the experience of her first project installation.
As a young designer at JRA I have the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting projects throughout their design phases. From visioning documents, storyboards, renderings, schematic drawings, shop drawings, architectural plans and more, I get to see almost the entire life span of a project unfold on my 27” computer screen. Recently, I was given the opportunity to step away from my desk and to participate in the final phase of a project's life, the install. Being able to work on a project throughout the design process and then to see it come full circle, not to mention full scale, has been an incredible journey.
This journey began almost a year ago when myself and several other members of the JRA design team traveled to Daytona, Florida to meet with representatives of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America or MSHFA. We toured their newly acquired facility, located just a few yards from the famous Daytona Speedway. The design brief was to take this new facility and create a series of exhibits and galleries that encompassed the full spectrum of motorsports: cars, motorcycles, off-road, powerboats and airplanes. Our goal was to embody the spirit of racing and create a place that would pay tribute the drivers and operators of the fastest machines in America.
This was a very exciting project to work on. The design team faced many unique challenges throughout the project, including suspending historic cars 30 feet into the air, mounting speedboats on top of walls, and placing several racing vehicles on a stretch of track banked at 45 degrees in the center of the museum.
After weeks of supporting the project from behind my computer screen in Ohio, I was asked to travel to Florida and participate in installing the final gallery, which was a total thrill. The design for the final gallery grew out of a collaborative effort between the MSHFA and the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. It would showcase the life’s work of Hot Rod magazine owner and creator, Robert E. Petersen, and the impact he had on the world of racing.
On the first day of the instillation, we arrived on site to find that our staging area was to be shared with catering services, a demolition pile of old exhibits, and various props and displays from the Daytona Speedway. JRA Art Director and project lead, David Ferguson, was unfazed and wasted no time in organizing and setting a plan in motion. Before I knew it, teams of fabricators, lighting designers, technicians, and AV designers filled the gallery.
I had always imagined an install to progress in a sequential series of defined phases. For example…
Phase 1: Lay the carpet
Phase 2: Install artifacts in the case
Phase 3: Hang lights and focus on case
Phase 4: Incorporate AV and sound
It was quite a shock to find that most of these task progress simultaneously. Carpet being laid, fabricators were arranging artifact cases, and the lighting team was on ladders hanging lights - all at the same time in the same space! The work was done at a fast pace but executed very precisely. So I began the task of learning the complex dance of working amidst the various teams moving in and out, working around, over, and under each other while carrying out their assorted tasks. I could see that there was a method to the organized chaos, but it was not until day three I felt that I could keep up with the pros.
One of my first tasks on sit was to work with David to unpack the large crate of artifacts we received from the Petersen Automotive Museum. It was a unique learning experience to witness the extremely carful and thoughtful consideration that goes into the arrangement of each artifact. It was exciting to carefully handling each delicate article as we strategized their arrangement.
On the final day of the install, our staged artifacts had to be carefully moved to the gallery and placed inside the display case. This was easer said then done. The case itself was suspended 10’ in the air and some distance away from the elevated walk way. It was quite the scene seeing our amazing fabrication team from Nassal send a member into the suspended case and then, through carful instruction, set each artifact in place. Final, all that was left was to lift an extremely heavy panel of glass up over the railing and set it into the case. This extremely difficult feat had to be done with out nudging or knocking the artifacts out of place. We all held our breath as Nassal’s entire team lifted the heavy glass and inched it slowly into position. The panel was locked into place and the artifact case was sealed. It was a great end to a busy install.
The finalized gallery was incredible to walk through and see first hand. But even more rewarding was seeing all the different moving parts, the various team members, and the process of the physical creation during the install. It was an unbelievable experience to be apart of the final chapter of the design process and see what had only been a 27-inch drawing on a computer screen, come to life.
February 10, 2017
I would advise anyone starting out in a creative career to … try everything and anything! Even though I’m just starting out, I’ve found the best part of creative careers is the endless opportunities.
I wish I had come up with … Post-its
What are your favorite movies? My all time favorite: The Sound of Music
If you could have any super powers, what would they be? To teleport or to fly! It would be a much easier way to travel.
Dream experience design project: American Girl world park—I’ve always loved American Girl dolls, and it would be a childhood dream come true to bring that world to life!
Thank you, Katlyn! We hope you enjoy your time at JRA.
Tags: JRA Team
November 28, 2016
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 email@example.com.
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.
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 www.spacecenter.org.
Congratulations to all of the 2016 IAAPA Brass Ring Award Winners!
November 09, 2016
While next week's IAAPA Expo is known for its fabulous networking opportunities, stimulating educational sessions, and blockbuster parties, one of the most heartwaming aspects of the weeklong conference is IAAPA's partnership with Give Kids the World.
Give Kids the World was founded in 1986, when a little girl with leukemia was not able to raise the funds for an Orlando dream vacation before her passing. Henri Landwirth, a hotelier who had tried to help that little girl, vowed to never let a sick child's wish go unfulfilled again. With the help of his colleagues in the hospitality industry, he began arranging dream vacations for children with life-threatening illness and their families, sometimes at a moment's notice. As demand grew, Landwirth knew he needed a permanent home for this important project. Give Kids the World Village opened in 1989, and is now a 79-acre resort with 144 villa accommodations, attractions and activities, serving 146,000 families from all 50 states and 75 countries.
IAAPA holds a number of fundraising events for Give Kids the World during its annual Orlando Expo, including a Motorcycle Ride, an International Charity Golf Tournament, a raffle, and the Footprints from the Heart 5K. As in previous years, JRA staff members have formed a team for the race, which winds through the whimsical pathways of the Village, enabling us to see first-hand the impact of this amazing organization.
"Give Kids the World holds a large place in everyone in the industry's hearts," said Chloe James, JRA Director of Marketing and Business Development (and JRA team captain). "JRA takes part in the race every year because of just that. It's a morning where we get to see what this incredible place offers to its visiting families first hand. IAAPA Expo week is crazy, but this gives us all a reality check as to why we do what we do everyday, and we wouldn't miss it for the world." Chloe has reached the medal podium three of the last four years, so she's hoping for another victory in 2016!
You can help support the wonderful work of Give Kids the World by sponsoring the JRA Team. CLICK HERE to make your safe and secure donation, and help make wishes come true for critically ill children and their families.