The Space Foundation, a global nonprofit organization based in Colorado Springs, CO, focuses on promoting space exploration and utilization through a wide variety of space awareness programs, industry events and space-related education programs – all in support of its mission: “To advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.”
So, when the Space Foundation moved into larger headquarters in July 2011, there was no doubt that graphics generated to decorate the walls of the new location would be themed out of this world. Or, as described by Nancy Reed, the Space Foundation’s director of marketing and creative services: “The universe was the limit.”
The Space Foundation partnered with Golden, CO-based New Vista Image, a division of Lowen Corp., to create graphics for two floors of office space. New Vista Image specializes in large-format digital printing projects, graphic design and graphics installation. The Space Foundation needed wall graphics for its first-floor lobby area and four large conference rooms as well as for the building’s second-floor Space Foundation team offices.
“We developed our own designs for the wall graphics,” said Reed. “My goal was to recreate images of space incorporating soft colors in grays, blues and purples. We wanted graphics for our world headquarters that looked like space. I also wanted to incorporate a multidimensional effect. Instead of creating flat wall art, I wanted the wall murals to pop out. … I like graphics that have a dimensional impact. It creates a more interesting, unique look.”
While Reed wanted to create unique multidimensional graphic displays, she also had to stay within a budget set by the nonprofit foundation. So, she turned to New Vista Image for substrate recommendations. As an avid space enthusiast, Ann Brown, president, New Vista Image, was more than happy to provide an affordable multidimensional graphics solution for the Space Foundation.
“The Space Foundation is a very prestigious organization that hosts many influential industry and military visitors from around the world,” said Brown. “It’s great to have our work displayed there.”
New Vista Image employees printed space images for wall murals on 3M 380cv3 vinyl on a Stylus Pro GS6000 Epson printer and finished with a 3M 8519 luster overlaminate. Brown said the self-adhesive vinyl was specifically chosen because it would adhere well to the building’s walls that featured an orange-peel texture. Routed graphics displayed as dimensional “pop-outs” on the murals were printed on vinyl and laminated onto a number of substrates, including Gatorfoam, Sintra, and Dibond graphic display boards by 3A Composites USA as well as onto acrylic panels.
“The Space Foundation wanted to create unique, custom graphics for each wall; but it was also on a budget,” said Brown. “Sintra and Gatorfoam were good solutions as substrates. They’re both durable over time but fit the budget. … We like to do unique projects and that’s how we’re best known. 3A Composites’ products afford us the opportunity to be creative. They allow us to create layered, affordable graphics.”
Gatorfoam consists of polystyrene foam bonded between two layers of wood-fiber veneer laminate – a unique construction that makes Gatorfoam rigid yet lightweight and warp-resistant. Sintra is a lightweight-yet-rigid expanded PVC material that fabricates easily without special tools and can be heat formed and laminated to other materials. Dibond consists of two pre-painted sheets of .012-inch aluminum bonded to a solid polyethylene core – a unique composition that makes it approximately one-half the weight of aluminum.
In addition to the wall murals, four first-floor conference rooms were decorated with image collages designed to honor the contributions to space exploration of three US Air Force generals as well as that of a community leader and major space supporter. A background image was printed on vinyl, mounted on acrylic and routed in a disk shape. Additional cut-out images were printed on vinyl and mounted on ½-inch thick white Gatorfoam, then layered atop the background image.
Individual substrates were selected for their aesthetics, durability and light weight, according to Brown, who said substrate weight played an important role in the creation of larger multi-dimensional displays.
For example, the 10-by-10 foot wall mural installed outside the office of Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham features an image of space as it would appear from a space capsule. This vinyl wall mural is framed with two layers of routed 6mm thick black Sintra to give the viewer the impression of looking out of a space capsule window.
Another 8-by-8 foot vinyl wall mural positioned outside executive offices presents a view of space from a cupola on the International Space Station. New Vista Image framed the mural with two layers of 6mm thick black Sintra – the first layer routed in a square shape with rounded edges and the second layer routed in a circular shape. A final layer – resembling a metal-like space station cupola – was routed from 3mm thick Dibond in the Brushed Silver finish.
“The Dibond offered a metal look that you might expect in the space station,” said Brown. “And, Sintra holds up well when it’s used to create long-term displays.”
New Vista Image utilized a total of 328 square feet of 6mm thick black Sintra, 91 square feet of 1/2-inch thick white Gatorfoam and 60 square feet of 3mm thick Dibond in the Brushed Silver finish for the Space Foundation graphics.
Reed provided original artwork files generated with Adobe InDesign software to New Vista Image where designers refined the artwork with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator software to incorporate bleeds. Graphics production was begun in October 2011 with installation completed in November 2011.
“These graphics look fabulous and have received so many compliments,” said Reed. “Everyone who views them is pleased. Several people have come here just to look at the graphics. They provide a dimensional, creative treatment for the walls.”
The Space Foundation will open the initial phase of its world headquarters’ Visitors Center this October. The Visitors Center will include the Northrop Grumman Science Center, which will feature Science On a Sphere and be used for formal education, community programs and general public visits. And, the Visitor Center’s El Pomar Space Gallery will display a small portion of the Space Foundation’s extensive collection of space artifacts and memorabilia. The Visitors Center, which is supported by corporate and philanthropic donations, will initially occupy approximately 3,500 square feet. The Space Foundation is raising funds to create at least 12,000 more square feet of displays, including a teaching auditorium and a Space Technology Hall of Fame.
The Visitors Center will be decorated with graphic displays similar to those installed in the Space Foundation’s office area.
“We’re providing space information for everyone from kindergartners up to space policymakers,” said Reed. “The whole look of this facility is important. New Vista Image did a good job in every phase of this build-out. They made good use of the funds that we’ve raised. These graphics have created a quality environment. They’re eye-catching, impactful and memorable. I can’t wait to do more.”