I like to think there are creative projects that are smooth sailing from the get go—you know that panacea with plenty of funding, a flexible schedule, the ability to adapt to new thinking easily, no vulnerability to outside pressures. I like to think there are vast herds of beautiful sleek winged pigs who soar like butterflies too, but I’ve never met one.
The challenge of bringing stories to life, on a screen, in a book, or in the case of the Spaceport America, as an immersive experience that takes place in four new physical spaces and across an 18,000 acre location; is that it’s an act of evolution in an environment that changes daily. Fortunately for us, we’re working with a best-of-class team who somehow not only roll with the punches but, like an Aikido master, seems to gain energy and strength from them. Starting today, we embark on design-development and by the end of August, we’ll have the experience ready to be drawn, built, shot, and produced over the next year, but here is just a snapshot of how Team IDEAS works.
Last week we hit a significant milestone as we delivered the schematic design package. Our design architect, David Exline from Exline Design and his team have outdone themselves in matching building design to the spirit of space and exploration, with homage to the scrappy, “test-pilot” feel of the real world and a way to visually honor the heart of the New Mexico desert. David Hassard from SMPC Architects, who has been on-site at Spaceport America delivering the spectacular Virgin Galactic Gateway To Space, has been instrumental in helping with siting and bringing problem solving to the table to make design work.
While the buildings were taking shape, the guest experience itself was evolving from conceptual notions to real, tangible components of a true story of exploration and invitation. (This usually sounds like “Good idea but with this budget we’d have to…”) Mark Mazzanti and Mike Yeager of MY Design/MAYAD have worked hand in glove with our IDEAS staff to create the engagement from 3D theaters to virtual simulation that will bring visitors into the family of the next generation of space exploration as participants. While the design teams have been breathing life into what has ’till now been only concept, Joni Newkirk and Scott Sanders at Integrated Insight have been methodically testing the thinking with the market, providing the compass headings to keep us on course and Bob Lamb and Al Shacklett at ORCA made sure that the operation will be viable, sustainable and properly sized. Meanwhile, on the business front Tom Cordova, from Cordova Marketing Group has begun conversations with potential sponsors while Skip Palmer, our incredible project manager at Blackhorse Worldwide has pulled together a complete schedule and budget leading us to opening day while developing criteria for essential operator and developer contracts.
At IDEAS, our story team lead by Duncan Kennedy and our New Mexico conscience Larry Littlebird has kept the creative intent of the program clear in narrative while David Bain, our IDEAS Project Curator has begun formatting every piece of media and an ambitious new web and mobile portfolio so the Studio team can begin treatments, scripts and breakdowns. Kelly Pounds our VP of IDEAS Learning is aligning the new schematic guest experience with enriched learning content while I, along with artists from Orlando, Miami, and New York have been finishing up the new brand. It takes this kind of holistic and integrated effort to pull off complex new story-forms in the real world—no matter how much we would all love to find that mythical perfect project. We’re proud of team IDEAS and excited about Spaceport America. I’d like to say thanks to everybody, including our great clients at the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. We’ve been on a journey together beginning at “What If..” and arriving at today’s milestone of “We could…” The next stop on the way is “Here’s how.”
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