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The U.S. Army conceived the Army Experience Center, or AEC, as a savvy educational tool as well as a way to rebrand itself for a new generation. Part of a pilot program, it was designed to offer visitors the opportunity to virtually experience many aspects of Army life. The AEC program was also used to evaluate new marketing strategies. The U.S. Army collaborated with the marketing agency, Ignited, to develop the program and with Wulff Architects to design and detail the interior renovation. When the AEC launched, it cost $12 million to design and construct and it achieved high visibility within the Franklin Mills Mall during its two-year pilot period. The 14,500 sf space was open to the public and filled with high-tech games, simulators, and information centers. Highlights included a centralized café lounge, a 79-seat gaming lounge, Tactical Ops Center, interactive touch-screen kiosks, and three simulator rooms featuring a Blackhawk, Apache and HMMWV. The polished concrete floors, exposed ceilings and ductwork, full-height butt-glazed partitions, and dramatic lighting gave the space an industrial and techy atmosphere.

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