Pacific Visions

Aquarium of the Pacific
exhibition, spatial experience, UX, IxD, art direction

Design Questions

Phase 01

How might we create an emotional connection between humans and the World Ocean?

Phase 02

How might we educate and empower visitors to have a positive impact on the World Ocean?

Project Overview
Pacific Visions, an expansion opening at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Spring 2019, will be the most powerful educational platform for communicating the challenges and opportunities of the World Ocean. It will augment the Aquarium’s existing mission to “instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems”.

The Pacific Visions experience is comprised of four main parts that build on the existing Aquarium experience:

↳ Concept renderings of Pacific Visions components by Cortina Productions. Source: Aquarium of the Pacific


Because Pacific Visions is still very much in development, I cannot publically share many artifacts from my research and design process. Below are descriptions of my process and project highlights that I can share.

Phase 01
The Aquarium brought me on board to lead research and development for the inaugural exhibition in their art gallery. At my disposal, I had information that the Aquarium already made public about Pacific Visions, the architectural plans for the expansion, and an open-ended prompt from Aquarium President and CEO, Jerry Schubel. Otherwise, I was completely on my own!

Primary Research
I spent multiple days observing Aquarium visitors in the existing space of the Aquarium, making sure to not interrupt their visitor experience so that I could see how different people interact with the space.

Secondary Research + Collaboration
In order to find out the ways in which science communication and artistic visualization + expression already intersect, I conducted interviews with Dan Goods and Kevin Hussey at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for their expertise in science communication and artistic data visualization.

I also started collaborating with Dr. Sandy Trautwein (the Aquarium’s Vice President of Husbandry) to incorporate a more grounded, scientific perspective to my art exhibition/installation concept.

↳ High-level journey map of how visitors would move through the Pacific Visions experience, and what they can expect to experience in each part of the whole.

I ultimately created concept art and storyboards for an immersive installation. Why immersion? Because the Aquarium is an immersive space by nature. Short of stepping into the water, the Aquarium is the closest a person can get to the Pacific Ocean. The Art Gallery would take that sense of immersion one step further—from physical proximity, to fundamental and dynamic  connection to the World Ocean and the life in it.

The installation concept I pitched captured the interest of a number of design studios; it was the foundation for the Aquarium to forge new relationships with emerging design + technology studios that would have otherwise not been on their radar. Although the subject of the installation has since changed, the immersive format remains a constant.

Phase 02
Collaborators: Todd Masilko & Alexia Chuck

As part of a Fellowship with Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design, I had the opportunity to work on another component of the Pacific Visions experience. Unlike the Art Gallery, the Culmination Gallery is a space where visitors can synthesize everything they have just seen and learned in the previous stages of the experience into actionable practices.

Existing Framework

How can we design an “architecture of change” in people’s minds by empowering them to take actions that will actually make a positive impact on the World Ocean both now and in the future? How can we communicate those to the Aquarium’s audience in terms of Food, Water, and Energy choices?

Desk Research
In order to quickly generate a design framework to fit within the conceptual framework presented to us, we used what information we could find about how people can make positive impacts on Food, Water, and Energy in their everyday lives.

We delivered a compelling first presentation that showed how physical and mobile interactions could help visitors to keep the Pacific Visions experience with them long after they leave the Aquarium.

Primary Research
After making our initial presentation to the Aquarium, we took a research trip to the UCSB Department of Marine Ecology to interview experts such as Douglas McCauley and the Sustainable Fisheries Group to help us better understand what the scientific realities are. We also wanted to hear what they (as scientists and people interfacing with the Pacific Ocean and its life and ecosystems on a daily basis) would want people to take away from the experience we’re designing.

↳ Excerpt from presentation delivered to Aquarium featuring a portion of our design framework for the Culmination Gallery space.

The team I was on generated a number of interactive exhibition ideas, some of which the Aquarium will be bringing to life, and others that are changing form to suit other parts of the Pacific Visions experience.


Working with the Aquarium gave me the opportunity to explore how I could design ways to communicate big and often difficult scientific concepts to a wide audience. Although I do not see myself working exclusively in educational spaces, my work with the Aquarium solidified that I want to design tools and resources for people to learn more about the world around them.

©️ Godiva Veliganilao Reisenbichler. All rights reserved.