Soaring to the sky

The eye-catching seven-storey “gateway” building has been conceived by Baltimore-based GWWO Architects, and will provide a major tourist hub for Florida’s Brevard County and beyond. The building will be the crowning glory in a much larger landscaping scheme that will facilitate a programme of events, retail and food offers. Inside the centre leading edge interactive experiences and magazine styled graphics will not only highlight the region’s diverse human and natural history, but provide a gateway to other regional attractions for both the local community and visitors alike.

In this year’s State of the Port Community Briefing, CEO Stan Payne, affirmed that:

‘The new Welcome Center will be a catalyst for Port Canaveral to become the destination it should be and the economic wave it creates will be dramatic.’

The facility will be multi-purpose, with dynamic exhibit spaces catering for leisure users, and conference and event spaces supporting local business communities.


Fun for all the family

Our creative vision covers four floors of the new centre, encompassing nearly 6, 000 sq ft of dedicated exhibition space, and topped with a dramatic observation deck. With a primary target audience of family groups we have deliberately created exhibit experiences which encourage visitors to get involved. Technology has been thoughtfully selected to maximise message, visitor impact and sustainability and is balanced with mechanical interactives and art. Most importantly, perhaps, we have kept the displays amusing and the pace varied to achieve the target “fast track” two hour dwell time. So, let me take you on a journey through this exciting new centre.

Miles of stunning coastline

As visitors enter reception they will be reminded of Brevard County’s coastal environment and the 72-miles of beautiful beaches – not just through the architect’s use of light and materials, but by an art installation that we are currently commissioning. We’re looking for an artist to create a large-scale installation which will greet visitors as they arrive. The piece will acknowledge the significant beach-cleanup efforts organised by the local community and the need for us all to embrace a greater care of the oceans to ensure that our blue planet thrives for future generations.

Walking through time

On the second floor, we unpack 12 000 years of changing landscapes and patterns of human settlement around Port Canaveral. Our designers are developing digital technologies to map these trends that will compliment a “cabinet of curiosities” cataloging the history of human impact and change via artifacts mounted in a large display case surrounding the table. Visitors will be able to scan through a rich array of archival material – illustrations, aerial photographs, historic maps and documents – building up a picture of burgeoning communities and industries. The native Ais and Timucua peoples, fishing families and leisure users of today will all feature.

But it is not only people-focused narratives that are important here. Sustainability and technological stories will be presented too, particularly through a series of sizable, multi-user physical interactives. Through these fun and engaging hands-on exhibits visitors will discover how the coastal environment is managed to balance ecology and port operations, as well as exploring the rich aquatic diversity of the region.

Riding the Waves

The area is well-known for leisure pursuits – encompassing the parklands, beachfronts and water-based sports including fishing and surfing. Our creative direction is inspired by the transition of environments – from the sea to beach to land which come together to showcase all the region has to offer pleasure seekers. A dramatic ‘wave’ installation fashioned from surfboards will provide a photo opportunity with a difference!

In this zone, exhibit materials are used innovatively to reflect the nature of the stories. From tales printed on surf boards and cast fish mounted behind hand crafted glass to Astroturf representing the growing golfing community and fiberglass panels to represent the cutting edge boat and yacht building companies.

Adjacent to the main gallery on this floor, and providing a break in the pace of the visit, is an 83-seater theatre. The film has been storyboarded by HSD to compliment the Welcome Center’s narrative, and is currently being developed in partnership with Aperture Films. This immersive movie will take visitors on a dramatic tour of the history, people and landscapes of the region. The idea of the ‘Port as a Portal’ will underpin the visual imagery chosen for the production.

Navigating the Port

Now one of the busiest deep-water ports in the world, Port Canaveral was first conceived in the late 19th century, and dedicated in 1953. With panoramic views across the military, commercial and cruise-liner facilities, the fifth floor will give visitors the opportunity to step aboard a ship’s bridge to virtually navigate through the Port’s channel and into a berth. Exhibits here also explore the long sweep of maritime history, Cape Canaveral’s strategic location and the treacherous sand banks and shallows which make the Cape a notorious shipwreck site and a draw for treasure seekers.

Gateway to the Space Coast

Port Canaveral lies at the heart of Florida’s Space Coast and the exhibits on level six will explore an Air and Space Port theme. Cape Canaveral has been the main launch site for all of America’s space explorations from Cape Kennedy. Space craft have been launched here for over 60 years, with Port Canaveral providing strategic support for retrieving space craft, Air Force activities and more recently for commercial satellite companies drawing upon the highly skilled local workforce.

Escaping from earth to explore the moon and soon Mars – this gallery’s narrative is centered around a specialist audio visual sphere that will provide context to stories about the space programme, moon landings, and also the future plans for deep space travel and Mars. Real-time updates on forthcoming launches will flow round the gallery, drawing visitors into the Port’s current and future space adventures.

Having explored the outer reaches of the solar system, visitors will reach the pinnacle of the building – the observation deck. Drawing together all the amazing stories of Port Canaveral, they will see the working port, glistening ocean and Kennedy Space Center laid out before them – energised and enthused to explore all that the region has to offer.

Interested in learning more about the scheme?

Click here and here

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