The John F. Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, FL, was originally built to launch the Saturn V, to date the only launch vehicle to transport human beings beyond low Earth orbit, for the Apollo manned moon landing program. Recently, a 10-year plan was set into motion to update and modernize the Space Center’s Visitor Complex. The new entry experience, retail shop and restaurant are the first phase of the plan, developed by PGAV Destinations of St. Louis, MO. The new entrance incorporates a grand entry plaza, a re-designed ticket station and a 75-foot-long, 5,000-gallon fountain.

The fountain, designed by Freeport Fountains of Sanford, FL, is lit in the evenings with LED lights programmed in sequence with 26 waterjets. An audio recording of an actual NASA lift-off also plays as the waterjets pulse to the blastoff sequence. The fountain’s backdrop is a 75-foot-long radial-shaped trapezoid, standing 30 feet tall at its highest point, featuring Blue Pearl granite supplied by Coldspring of Cold Spring, MN. For the project, 875 square feet of the granite was selected because it coordinates with NASA’s signature blue, and the polished finish provides an ideal surface for the laser etching that features a quote from President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 moon speech at Rice University.

Jim Dee, project architect for PGAV Destinations, said they didn’t visit the quarry for the Blue Pearl granite, but did receive samples from the supplier. “One was a 3-foot by 3-foot stone mock-up of JFK etched into the stone face, and we chose the Blue Pearl granite with crystal flecks because it resembled the depth of space with stars in the night sky,” said Dee.

Dee also said the biggest hurdle of the project was coordinating all the components. “The greatest challenge of the project for PGAV Destinations was coordinating the many components of the fountain: JFK’s image, fountain nozzles, music and sound, and the stainless steel cap that covers the top of the wall,” he said. “Our team, along with the client, spent a very long time searching for the perfect image of JFK: expressing inspiration, looking upward, dreaming of exploring space; and we think we found it with the final choice.”

Jon Havlak, designer for PGAV Destinations and the designer of the fountain, wanted the entry fountain to symbolize the spirit of the Kennedy Space Center as the place where U.S. Rockets were launched and history was made. “NASA is honored with the adjacent Blue NASA Logo Sphere, which works as a companion piece with the fountain composition,” said Havlak. “The curved black wall slopes up from right to left to symbolize the flight of a rocket launch and to lead the arriving guests’ eyes to the adjacent KSC Rocket Garden, where early U.S. Rocket and Space History are displayed. This curved wall is clad in polished dark Blue Pearl granite with crystal speckles, which was chosen to symbolize space and stars. This works especially well at night when the crystals reflect the show lighting to create a star field on the dark stone background. The curved wall is capped with a stainless steel ‘Vapor Trail’ band and end element following the rockets flight.

“A pattern of pop jet fountain nozzles on a sloping granite surface are show programmed with the audio soundtrack to convey the action of rocket buildup and thrust at launch,” he went on to say. “The lower nozzles are more angled and the upper nozzles are more vertical to symbolize launch and flight path. Water spilling over this sloping concrete aggregate surface and falling off the edge to the front perimeter pool adds visual interest and sound in between the rocket launch fountain show sequence. President JFK’s photo and quote is laser etched into the granite panels to honor his spirit and support for the KSC Complex.”

During the fabrication stage, Coldspring brought value to the project in terms of schedule, shop drawings, an excellent fabrication record and its technological capabilities. Coldspring provided constant communication with the design team about what the project needed for an on-time completion.

Since the completion of the project in December of 2012, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s entry now greets 1.5 million guests annually, with the fountain as a highlight of
the facility. 

John F. Kennedy
Space Center

Cape Canaveral, FL

Architect: PGAV Destinations, St. Louis, MO

General Contractor:  The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Stone Supplier/Stone Fabricator: Coldspring, Cold Spring, MN

Stone Installer: Intrepid Enterprises, Inc., Harvey, LA