GWWO Architects, specialists in the design of welcome and visitor centers nationwide, designed the new 20,000-SF center located in Brevard County, Florida. The welcome center is part of a multi-million dollar revitalization effort for Canaveral Cove, which also includes new cruise terminals, and is expected to be completed by 2013.
The seven-story welcome center will feature an auditorium, exhibits, multi-purpose and
special event space, a gift shop and café. The seventh floor will host an observation
deck, with views overlooking the water, and the arriving and departing ships that
frequent the port daily.
The Port Canaveral Welcome Center will play a critical role in orienting visitors to the
Port, as well as the multiple destinations available in Brevard County, including NASA’s
home base, a Trident Submarine base and Patrick Air Force Base, and the world famous
Cocoa Beach. The design team drew its inspiration for the new center from these stories
and the characteristics they have in common: function, transience and vivid imagery.
Function. Functional efficiency and the idea that beauty is derived through function, is a
characteristic reflected in the design by GWWO Architects. The protective “shell” of the
building shields the interior from the strong Florida sun, while allowing panoramic views
of the Port. The tapering form of the building is designed to resist the strong ocean
breezes, and the structure and circulation elements are expressed both inside and
outside the building.
Transience. The idea of transience is seen in all of the stories associated with The Port
and Brevard County, from the constant movement of ships and cargo to the ever
changing landscape of the beaches and natural habitats. The Port Canaveral Welcome
Center is expressive of transience in its dynamic form, ever-changing as visitors view it
from various vantage points.
The interplay of shade and shadow as the sun shifts and the iridescent skin, which changes color depending on climatic conditions, further express the characteristic of transience in the design.
Imagery. Perhaps most compelling, the design makes metaphorical connections to the various stories in Brevard County. The building’s curving form is reminiscent of a shuttle on the launch pad, or a surfboard standing in the sand. Images of a ship’s hull or the natural forms found in nature are easily associated with the Center’s protective “shell”, while the overall arched shape alludes to the image of the rocket contrail.
Exhibits inside the Center will take visitors on a journey through 12,000 years of area history, from treasure hunting, military battles and Ponce de Leon’s Florida landing to today’s beach culture, space exploration and thriving industries. Full advantage will be taken of the advanced technology that is transforming today’s museums into interactive adventures.
Canaveral Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Stan Payne has described the building as a “magnet,” in anticipation of the new Center not only anchoring the Port, but also becoming a symbol of the region. “The design is grounded in the stories of the region,” said GWWO design principal Alan Reed. “The intent of the client group and design team was the create a highly visible building, but not simply for attention’s sake. The elements of the design that attract attention also tell the Port and region’s story.”
Status: Under Construction
Location: Cape Canaveral, FL, US
My Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Alan Reed, Design Principal
Terry Squyres, Principal-in-Charge
John Gregg, Project Manager
Al Ip, Project Architect