Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Encounter located in Merritt Island, Florida, is a national icon. This venue boasts a meet and greet with an astronaut 365 days a year. Along with a historical perspective of past space exploration, guests have the opportunity to take photos in the new astronaut gallery. This newly redesigned 1,500 sq. ft. lobby and 4,000 sq. ft. theatre required a complete design and rebuild. Along with new theatre carpet flooring (Little Black Dress) and wall carpeting (Flint), the lobby reveals black hexagonal tiles with an integrated LED programmed light show. The challenge was to integrate the LED light system with the multi-angled hexagonal tile. Each tile side was intricately inset with aluminum LED track, lighting, and acrylic face. This exercise took two weeks to complete. The new design/install created a fresh, moving and breathing destination for guests to learn about America’s space exploration.
Unique Installation Challenge Strategy
Like many projects, our challenge was time and space. Our task was to complete the project in a two-week window on remote Merritt Island, while operating under the high scrutiny and security of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. Not only was it a logistical nightmare to get the appropriate manpower and materials on time to the jobsite, but each facet of the project had to be done simultaneously with 4 other trades. The lobby, for instance, boasts a timed LED light show for all guests to enjoy. Each tile was laboriously cut down ¾” and the LED track was meticulously installed to replicate the grout joint. Electricians worked in unison with our crew to make all of the necessary connections and to test the system as the track was installed. The theatre floor and wall carpeting were also a challenge, given the time constraints and the coordination of all trades involved. The bowl-sloped theatre floor made the carpet tile installation difficult, as the seats were coming out and then being replaced as each of our areas was completed. Our crews shared scaffolding with other trades during the wall carpet install, which rose 20 feet above auditorium floor. The job was completed on time and, as the pictures illustrate, met the customer’s expectations.
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