The Gerald O. Young Helicopter Operations Facility

Highlights: Visualizing the initial creative physical and digital experience design for the whole facility, persuading stakeholders, creative direction on specialty projects and managing the budgets for all features essential to the vision.


My client was the 1st Helicopter squadron which included members of the flight and technical support team. This squadron's mission is to airlift high-ranking Executive Branch, dignitaries, military leaders and other VIPs. This 2 floor museum is open to VIP's mentioned above and staff.


My role as a museum liaison was to visualize telling the story of the squadron in an inspiring, dramatic way to match their mission as hero's, pilots and technicians. I created the mood boards and depicted a host of physical and interactive creative concepts plus a contract for these services. I won the entire 2 floor project (total budget $859,000.00).​ My perception of what level of design was needed in the facility was directly responsible for the bidding price.

In addition to my duties above as the museum liaison, Once the project was won, I managed and collaborated with the creative design and fabrication team guiding the development of all the features  through the phases of design, fabrication and install. I also creative directed and project managed certain outstanding artistic components of the production, namely the hanging helicopter sculpture (seen below) and the auditoriums sculptural sound walls. Photos are minimal due to security.


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The Strategy 

To enhance the dramatic storytelling of heroic missions with unique creative features, while adding ways for the staff and VIP's to gather, share, learn and be inspired.  

In my aim to captivate the imaginations of staff and visitors in the main hall, I directed the creation of an abstract helicopter sculpture to thematically unify all the facility exhibits and serve as the museums icon of technology and flight. The pre-existing wrap around staircase would allow the viewer to approach it from many angles and peer into it as they climbed to the second floor.  I also directed the creation of a sculptural acoustic wall for the auditorium. The sculptural acoustic wall was created though the use of the clients photography applied on dimensional shapes that enlivened the space while buffering the sound.

Another interesting part of the project was suggesting a way to showcase loads of historic scrapbook memorabilia collected by the squadron. I imagined a way to allow folks to gather, see photos and share stories as a group in the same way as a physical touch experience where photos are passed around. For this effect, I sold a 65" touch-table which would create community during a physical touch experience of digitized photos that could be "passed around" and resized on a table-like screen. This same piece of equipment was also practical for the display of schedules, concierge information for the facility, and introductory videos and safety information for visitors. 

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Our work was recommended to Air Force One

  • Complements by the Wing Commander, note the hanging helicopter

  • A dedication zone with wall timeline, encased artifacts, LED lighting and life like mannequin of hero, Gerald O. Young

  • An original, iconic 17 foot custom sculpted helicopter hanging in the atrium

  • Murals on the main floor

  • An auditorium exhibit with photo acoustic panels and video timeline wall

  • Installation of a heritage lounge and kitchen with memorabilia evoking the golden age of flight,
    custom wood work, copper tiles and fireplace

  • An honor wall of inscribed brass plaques 

  •  5 exhibit panels in staff briefing rooms

  • A65 inch touch-table with custom programming

  • Artifacts, labels and mannequins in custom cases.

  • Custom monitors walls in the atrium

  • Custom award exhibits with LED lighting effects 

  • Chain of command leadership displays with a changeable slat system

  • Lettering on the exterior brick building

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