Out of This World: Mission Mars Now Open at Space Center Houston

February 16, 2017

...Now anyone can get as close to Mars as any human will, any time soon, by visiting [Space Center Houston]. - Ars Technica

The “next big thing” has just opened at Space Center Houston. The spectacular new Mission Mars exhibit showcases an immersive experience about the red planet and offers an opportunity to peer inside an Orion spacecraft research model, stand close to a giant model rocket and walk on a virtual Mars environment.

Space Center Houston has enjoyed a spate of recent successes. Independence Plaza, which opened in January 2016, helped the center reach a record annual attendance of over one million visitors and captured two Brass Ring Awards at the recent International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. JRA provided completing planning, design and project management for Independence Plaza.

This new multi-million-dollar Mission Mars interactive exhibit, designed with input from NASA experts, opens as the nonprofit also kicks off its 25th anniversary year. JRA has again provided planning, design and project management.

“This new major exhibit will inspire the next generation of explorers who could one day walk on Mars,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. “Visitors will explore what it takes to travel to Mars, the hardware that will get us to the fourth planet in our solar system and how humans may live and conduct research on the red planet in future decades.”

Space Center Houston worked closely with NASA in the development of Mission Mars. A stunning 4K technology video shows a virtual Mars landscape with rovers exploring the planet, a future rocket launching from Earth and heading for Mars and future astronauts landing. The exhibit puts visitors in the astronaut’s seat of an Orion simulator and allows them to record their own historic messages as they take their first steps on Mars. A collection of three rare Mars meteorites is on display inside the exhibit for a limited time, plus there is a special Mars rock visitors can touch. There are only 60,000 known meteorites on Earth, fewer than 150 are from Mars and most of those are held in private collections.

The future-looking exhibit takes visitors to a Mars landscape and features a look at how Mars and Martians have been illustrated in pop culture; the wealth of potential scientific discoveries to uncover on Mars; the innovation needed to build the most advanced spacecraft; and what returning to earth from deep space involves. Understanding the evolution and formation of Mars is the first step of the journey in the new exhibit. The physical terrain is explored through virtual landscapes provided from an orbiting satellite and surface rovers. The experience allows visitors to leave their footprints on three different types of Mars surfaces, study Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, and seek evidence of water and water erosion as keys to finding evidence of possible life on Mars.

Visitors are able to peer inside a full-size Orion research model used by engineers from NASA Johnson Space Center and Lockheed Martin. The exhibit includes a magnificent 45-foot 1/8th scale model of the Space Launch System, which will be the most advanced and powerful deep space rocket ever produced. The SLS will use four RS-25 engines to help propel astronauts further into space than any rocket in history. Visitors can walk around one of these engines in the display. Touch-screen activities provide an opportunity to explore Mars, suit up an astronaut and pack for the long trip. Astronauts will face a unique set of challenges to sustain life and conduct experiments deep in the solar system. The exhibit shows how resources will be conserved and what techniques will be used to grow fresh food to sustain astronauts and reduce payload.

NASA’s Office of Education provided a grant through the Competitive Program for Museums, Science Centers, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers. These grants are designed to create interactive exhibits to engage the public, students and teachers in NASA-themed science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Lockheed Martin provided the Orion capsule research model, along with financial support for the exhibit construction. Space Center Houston is holding a jubilee celebration all year to honor its 25th anniversary on Oct. 16. The activities include the debut of several new exhibits, special events and a thought-leader speaker series.

For more information on Space Center Houston, please visit www.spacecenter.org. Congratulations to the entire Mission Mars team!

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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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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 www.spacecenter.org.

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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Fuzzy Fun: The Mascot Hall of Fame to Break Ground Friday

October 18, 2016

The City of Whiting, Indiana invites you to join them (and JRA!) on Friday, October 21st from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., to commemorate and witness the groundbreaking of the future Mascot Hall of Fame, with an opening set for late 2017.

Mayor Joe Stahura along with City officials, MHOF creator David Raymond, project and design consultants (including JRA), special guest speakers, and a few of our favorite furry friends (including the Phillie Phanatic and Mrs. Met) will begin the celebration with a short ceremony at Oil City Stadium. From there, Mayor Stahura will lead 500 community school students, residents and business leaders on a march to the construction site of the MHOF, at the intersection of 119th St. and Front Street to break ground for all to see.

What was presented to Mayor Stahura as a fun and innovative idea back in 2014 is now on its way to reality, making Whiting, Indiana "the silly, wacky city that could!" In successful partnership with Raymond Entertainment Group and multiple project consultants, the 25,000-square-foot Mascot Hall of Fame will be brought to life as a state-of-the-art interactive family fun zone with a wide range of exhibits, activities and events that celebrate mascot fun. In addition to providing entertainment, the MHOF will serve to educate about the roles, craft and science of mascots, creating opportunities for school groups and complementing state and local curriculums. This exciting new Whiting venue will host the Mascot Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremonies, and other original, memorable mascot interactions and performances will entertain, teach and enthuse children and their families year-round.

Mayor Stahura, the City of Whiting, JRA and beloved mascots in attendance from around the country hope you’ll join us for this memorable event. Can't make it? Stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for photos, interviews and more!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT: Land of Legends Theme Park Now Open

September 06, 2016

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Land of Legends Theme Park • Belek, Antalya, Turkey

Gallery images courtesy Polin Waterparks & Rixos Hotels

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Legend of Aqua, the first phase of Rixos Hotels’ 639,000-square-meter Land of Legends Theme Park, is now open, and guests are already calling it a “world class destination.”

Land of Legends Theme Park is the result of an international collaboration between Rixos World Parks & Entertainment (Serik, Turkey), Emaar Real Estate (Dubai, U.A.E.) and global cultural creativity brand Dragone Productions (La Louvière, Belgium). JRA (Jack Rouse Associates – Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) developed specialized zones for the water park and oversaw its master planning, concept and schematic design. Polin Waterparks (Dilovasi, Turkey) delivered a wide assortment of slides for the water park, as well as a water playground, a spray zone, wave and river systems, a SurfStream®, a Wave Ball and an entire hydro-mechanical system, including water circulation and filtration.

A world-class destination
The US$1 billion Land of Legends resort — designed with a Roman Empire/Greek Poseidon theme — takes its aesthetic cues from its picturesque setting between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The resort combines not only entertainment and adventure, but also education, nature, retail, luxury housing and theater to create a diverse attraction mix. Covering 639,000 square meters (6,878,139 square feet), Land of Legends includes a 196,000-square-meter (2,109,726-square-feet) shopping boulevard; a luxurious 17,000-square-meter (182,986-square-foot) five-star hotel; a 146,000-square-meter (1,571,531-square-feet) wildlife park; and a viewing terrace that reaches 111 meters (364 feet) in height. When fully completed, Land of Legends will also include a 340,943-square-meter (3.7 million-square-foot) theme park, master planned and designed by JRA.

A signature water park for the whole family
The 280,000-square-meter (3 million-square-foot) water park, with a giant wave pool at its center, plays a featured role at the resort. The park also features an aquarium, a dolphinarium, a 5D cinema, a glass-walled restaurant and over 72 aquatic slides and attractions provided by Polin. The water slides offer fun for the thrill seeker as well as the thrill averse, and include “The Magicone” – the region’s first funnel slide, “SurfStream®” – the region’s first standing wave-surfing machine, a looping slide, high-speed slides, family rafting slides and a lazy-crazy river. The park also features kids attractions and a ladies-only area, making Legend of Aqua at Land of Legends truly a destination for all.

A new opportunity

"Our client group was always gracious and hospitable, but more importantly, they became friends to all of us here at JRA," said Randy Smith, JRA Senior Project Director. "It is extremely satisfying to see a project come to fruition, open with vitality, and operate smoothly. We are proud to have played such an integral part from the beginning."

Dr. Kubilay Alpdogan, the Director of Sales and Design for Polin Waterparks, says Polin considers the project to be a pinnacle of its achievements for 2016. “No other waterpark has been built to rival Land of Legends — at least not in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region of the world,” said Alpdogan. “It’s truly a new opportunity for families to enjoy time together.”


 

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