The Maritime Aquarium At Norwalk


During the first semester of my masters course M.P.S in Design Management, as a part of the program we were approached by The Maritime Aquarium to help them create innovative solutions for the upcoming problems they were going to face due the railroad bridge replacement, which disrupts the aquarium in many ways; the major one being decrease in footfall of visitors. The Aquarium is closely linked with the Norwalk Rail Bridge which has to be reconstructed and will take around 4-5 years, this construction will adversely affect the aquarium. The major issue foretasted was how to maintain visitors attendance and income during the 4-5 year of construction without disrupting the animals. It is difficult for the aquarium in Norwalk to attract tourist since it is not a tourist destination.

Empathize – UNDERSTAND

In this first phase, we took a tour of the aquarium as a visitor. We observed the space and ended up talking to a few visitors and employees. This process helped us in understanding the needs of both, the visitors and the aquarium.


By talking to people about their aquarium experiences, researching, observing visitors and reflecting upon the stated problems, we started categorizing the issues into different heads. Each problem started with “How Might We…”.
In this phase, we defined clear problems that we aimed at finding solutions


In this phase, we started brainstorming variety of ideas that could solve the problems of the clients. To solve the “How Might We” questions, we ended up with “What if” questions to find possible solutions.


We presented the initial ideas to our client and took direct feedback upon which ideas could best work for them taking into consideration the possible and financial aspects.

Refine – FOCUS

With the feedback received, we worked upon refining our initial ideas to solve the problems of the client more focused research.

Prototype, Test, Implement – BUILD & DEMONSTRATE

In this phase, we worked on the process of how our client could implement these ideas to the aquarium. We researched for ven- dors and service companies that could help in achieving the ideas.


The final presentation ended up with a book crafted with all the detailed description of ideas and the sources/vendors by which The Maritime Aquarium could imple- ment each idea. We presented the client with our research about how and why these ideas would benefit the aquarium and help in overcom- ing the problem they were going to face.

Reflection – KEY TAKEAWAYS

While working with The Maritime Aquarium, one of the main take- aways was that it is critical to talk, observe and experience the space or problem that we are trying to solve. I feel everything is out there, what matters is the different perspectives that we perceive about a situation or problem.