Entering the institute, visitors stand before glass panels carrying a faint image of a confident 15-year-old John Glenn. A tan-colored, rectangular-grid terrazzo floor defines the installation's approach and suddenly gives way to black and dark gray circular, concentric bands suggesting outer space. Within these dark bands stand three large, curved panels supported by columns made of aircraft aluminum. Orbiting in parallel, the panels invite visitors to enter. Outward facing panel sides display dramatic, symbolic imagery identifying each major theme. Inner facing panels contain that theme's timelines and supportive imagery. At the center of the exhibit and the panels' orbital paths is a rising metal cylinder that can be viewed by visitors through small cutout windows.
Protruding outside the institute and into the main interior hallways is a long, black structure housing nine separate display cases of archival memorabilia. The structure, wrapped in black terrazzo panels, carries engraved illustrations of Glenn's historic 1963 orbital flight path, complete with the earth's continents, radio tracking stations, and inset aluminum stars marking critical constellations used for navigation.
"This exhibit succeeds on many levels: as an architectural statement, as a timeline of historic and personal events, and as an engaging example of environmental graphic design. The architectural integrity of the engraved, black terrazzo panels and floor suggests the darkness of space without being foreboding. The stainless steel pylons that support the circular panels are elegant and minimal, suggesting the precision and science of the subject. As a permanent exhibit, it feels like it will stand the test of time and engage and inform the myriad students, faculty, and visitors who pass by and through every day."
Tom Webster (Principal in Charge), Oscar Fernandez (Design Director), Neils Braam, Jackie Call (Designers), Michelle Geissbuhler (writer)
Miller/Watson (architects), Lincoln Street Studio (architect of record)
Colortext (graphics installation), WKI (aluminum fabrication), Waters Edge (engraving)