Rutherford County Visitors Center

Compelling Visitors to Explore a Community
Anode planned and produced a dynamic space to promote Rutherford County's history and attractions.

For the new Rutherford County Visitor Center, architecture firm Hart Freeland Roberts contracted Anode to design an interpretive space for greeting tourists and hosting local events. HFR chose Anode for the company’s expertise in creating visitor center experiences that use technology as a way of communicating events and attractions.

Anode was responsible for the conceptual design of the space. Working with the client (Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce), Anode conducted a needs analysis, produced the preliminary visitor experience elevations, created bid documents for third-party vendors, produced the interactive components, and oversaw the creative direction of the installation. From the beginning, Anode worked within the overall budget to maximize the visitor experience with proper considerations for tradeoffs between technology and static graphics. The final solution focused on four key areas in the visitor space.

Anode was brought in at the beginning of the design phase. This early involvement helped Anode integrate the visitor experience into the physical space.

Civil War Timeline

In recognition of the historic battlefields in Middle Tennessee, a large portion of the visitor space is dedicated to a timeline of the Civil War. The timeline is designed with special emphasis on the battles fought in Rutherford County and the surrounding area. The images and text are designed to share just enough of a story, so visitors feel compelled to visit the actual site.

These images show the conceptual development and the final installation of the Civil War timeline. In the early stages of any project, Anode produces a number of sketches and schematic diagrams to clarify the vision for the space.

Local Attractions Graphic Panels

Along the Visitor Center’s western wall, windows connect the interior space to the outside environment. Anode leveraged this natural backdrop with a series of four vibrant graphic panels to communicate the vast array of cultural offerings available throughout the year. These panels also act as useful conversation starters during community events held. Guests can readily make connections over the various activities, such as the music festivals and heritage celebrations that are featured on the graphics.

These graphic panels were designed with special floor-to-ceiling stands that complement the space near the windows. The back of each panel features an environmental scene that is visible to outside pedestrians.

Illustrated Map Mural

To put all the attractions and points of interest in context, Anode designed and produced an oversized (26.5′ x 10′) map mural of the county. On this colorful curved wall, Anode identifies where travelers can locate historic sites, communities, colleges and even prominent businesses. To create a more engaging view of the county, Anode utilized three-dimensional graphics to recreate each location on the map.

For each location on the map Anode gave special consideration to the accuracy of architectural features.

Touchscreen Interactives

To promote the ever-growing list of events and businesses in Rutherford county, Anode also produced three digital media installations. Two large touchscreens are powered by Anode’s proprietary FireSign™ Dynamic Digital Signage software. FireSign offers a number of web-based applications that allow passive and interactive experiences for sharing media and directing visitors.

The first touchscreen is an interactive version of the map mural where visitors can learn more about events happening throughout the county. This interactive is powered by the FireSign Event Finder Application. Navigation of the map or list provides supplemental information about each location or event. All images, dates and details may be edited at any time through FireSign’s web-based administration tool. Using the FireSign system, the visitor center staff is able to keep all the event information timely and relevant through weekly updates.

A second touchscreen features a business directory powered by the FireSign Interactive Guide Application. This interactive kiosk allows visitors to explore their options for dining, lodging and retail locations. When a new business is started in the community, the administrative staff is able to easily add the business name, picture and location through FireSign’s online interface.

In order to extend the conversation beyond the physical visitors center, Anode turned an Apple iPad into a virtual guest book for collecting visitor contact information. As visitors enter their information, the iPad automatically saves the data to a third-party database. The staff then uses this information to promote new events and businesses through their direct mail and email initiatives.

This virtual guestbook captures basic contact and demographic information for ongoing marketing efforts.