Rockets, Alligators, and Retail
From the early years of the civilian space agency NASA inception and the subsequent land acquisition in Florida, there have been visitors seeking the experience of seeing launches, visiting the complex and a desire for memorabilia from their visit. Retail at the complex is operated by DNC Parks and Resorts and this destination is heavily frequented by tourists from all over the world. The time had come for a major remodel of the 12,000-square-foot, two-level main store as DNC and NASA recognized an opportunity to enhance the experiential value of a visit and to reinforce the NASA ‘brand’ at this unique destination with its history. To be completed in Spring of 2018, we were engaged to help them reinforce the ‘story’ through the presentation and organization of product in an updated environment in collaboration with NASA’s Florida based architect BRPH.
The first steps were to improve the management of peak traffic loading periods during launches designated on the calendar. This involved the relocation of vertical transportation to the mezzanine level, repositioning and reconfiguring the cash wrap function and opening up sightlines throughout the store. Because the mezzanine level was activated from only one side creating inactive ‘dead’ zones, we introduced the idea of a traffic ‘bridge’ spanning mid-point between the mezzanine sides and proposed using a previously stored artifact from the Apollo missions, an actual gantry used by astronauts to enter the nose cone on several missions. This introduced an important icon into the retail environment and improved the activation of all parts of the mezzanine so well that the mezzanine became a destination for astronaut greeting and autograph signings.
The over-arching idea for the remodel was to present memorabilia in an ‘intelligent place’ that speaks to moments of truth in engineering, discovery, exploration, adventure, scientific curiosity, inspiration and understanding about our planet and the universe overall.