If the concept was unusual - use engagement with a mini-golf course to teach young students about astrophysics - the challenge of making it work in the real world was equally unique. As the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, Queens, celebrates the instant acclaim of Rocket Park Mini Golf Course, they have Big Show Construction Management's expertise to thank for putting proof to each putt.
With actual NASA Atlas and Titan rockets standing stately guard, museum docents guide young visitors through a nine-hole putting course in which each hole represents a different aspect of astrophysics. But for the Hall of Science, mere illustration would never do. Here instead, the players work through actually physics challenges - achieving proper 'escape velocity' to launch a ball into 'orbit,' avoiding space debris, and finding the correct angle for geosynchronous orbit.
Throughout the two-year project, Big Show overcame its own series of obstacles, sourcing the exact materials and methods to make the course true to its scientific principles, yet accessible and playable for the young students it needed to engage and enthrall. "All of our projects are one-of-a-kind," notes Big Show President and Owner, Rod Hickey. "This was a little more one-of-a-kind than usual. We modeled every hole with 3D renderings and prototypes. We experimented with a wide array of materials and surfaces to make sure that when an 8 year old needs to be able to send a ball into a G-force demo, she can do it." "We specialize in unusual design/build projects," notes Hickey. "Having come from the entertainment industry, we're focused on the visitor experience."
BSCM collaborated with Lee H Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership to bring the vision of Hall of Science to life. "We were very grateful that Skolnick's team brought Big Show into the project. They worked with us as collaborators from prototyping through installation, they delivered on a very tight schedule, in a very tight budget, and delivered first rate work. They were there to push when we needed them and were flexible enough to meet the changing conditions of the job. All in all, Big Show was a pleasure to work with." says Eric Siegel, Director and Chief Content Officer at the Hall of Science.
BSCM coordinated the work of landscape architects, fabricators, engineers and contractors to overcome the challenges of constructing a mini-golf course on a former meadow with drainage issues. An early decision to shape the holes from Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) allowed Big Show to "keep the concrete lightweight yet sturdy enough to withstand years of steady traffic," says BSCM manager for the project, Matt Dodge. Judging from the popularity of the attraction since its opening June 20th, durability will be very important. East Coast Surfacing's recycled rubber safety surface keeps the play fun, and even the Astroturf was an unusual specification. "After all, they have to play the holes to learn the lessons, so we had to make sure everything was possible," adds Dodge.
From unusual concept to successful project, Big Show is proud to have made it possible. "We'd like to thank Margaret Honey, President of the New York Hall of Science, Harold Chapnick, and of course, Eric Siegel, for making us part of the team," said Rod Hickey.
Big Show Construction Management specializes in the creation of themed and engagement spaces. With expertise in the design, integration and installation of multimedia environments, the company coordinates the desires of clients and architects with the practical realities of construction. BSCM's clients include Audi; Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas; Madame Tussaud's, NYC; Sony Wonder Technology Lab, NYC, Time Warner Center, NYC; Standard Hotel, NYC and Toys 'R Us, Times Square, NYC. For more information on BSCM call 212 206-6443 or visit www.bigshowcm.com