The Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter, a multimedia presentation that features live appearances from astronauts who have launched, landed, lived, and worked aboard the space shuttle and/or International Space Station, recently underwent a massive renovation and rebranding project. Until recently, the multi-room national treasure, which is housed in a 25-year-old building, featured a dated lobby and holding area, 300-seat theater, restroom facilities, and hallways. In order to provide a more immersive experience, the Kennedy Space Center worked with INSTALL member Mr. David’s Flooring International and Florida-based design services firm Design Shop, to transform the space. The project was completed in 2016. INSTALL is a North American alliance of flooring mills, manufacturers, consultants, associations and contractors.
With this facility operational year-round, time was of the essence to strip the space and rebuild it better, stronger, and smarter than before. The result is a futuristic design that incorporates the latest in flooring technology. The astronauts that appear here now have a home that matches their own impressive tenures.
Although the Astronaut Experience center is not large in scale, the intricacies associated with installing the specified materials required time, effort, and training. The team was given a two-week window to complete the entire project. This was especially difficult as the center is located on Merritt Island, off the coast of Florida.
The major challenge was in the form of hexagonal tiles in the lobby/holding area. Every tile and angle was cut down 3/4″, and LED lighting strips were installed between these as a replacement for grout joint. In order to achieve this in the given timeline, two specialists worked around the clock for 11 days.
In total, four separate crews collaborated on the project, creating a cohesive installation project that included lighting, wallcoverings, seating and more. Electricians worked in unison with the flooring installation crew in the lobby, and seating installers literally trailed the carpet layers as they completed each section of the theater. Not only that, but the flooring installers shared scaffolding and equipment with other trades. To say it was a team effort is an understatement.
The reimagined and revitalized Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter center will allow thousands of young would-be astronauts, families, and tourists to experience the thrill of space flight for decades to come. From a design perspective, the center looks fantastic, using the latest and greatest in flooring and wayfinding products. However, it is the quality installation work that will keep the maintenance team happy while impressing guests for decades to come.