Heal the bay aquarium

Client: Heal the bay

partners: santa monica pier landmarks
+ santa monica city

Run dates: COMING SOON!

Project brief:
• Develop exterior wayfinding system from parking to entry
• Create a new exterior patio for programming
• Work within city and historic site needs
• Create a sense of space and community
• Enliven the facade of historic building
• Create interest from both sides of the new barrier

Ever been on an adventure and had a heck of time figuring out which way to go or where you needed to be?

Crisp worked with the Heal the Bay and Santa Monica City teams to create a new experience from parking lot to entry and reclaim space for a new patio and programming. Site planning, community wayfinding, secure new outdoor spaces, and a whole heap of fun!

Welcome to the Heal the Bay Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier!

What to do when your building is (literally) under a pier and out of sight of visitors?

As one of the most iconic sites in Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier is home to oodles of Angelenos and tourists, and is one of the most-filmed locations in southern California. The pier is unique in that it houses an amusement park, and its Ferris wheel showcases different icons displayed in lights to commemorate what is happening in the world. People flock to the pier to experience quintessential Socal life. Crisp's goal is to help these visitors discover the hidden gem that is Heal the Bay's public aquarium.

DEFINE THE SPACE: An invitation in and a beautiful view out. The newly proposed "Kelp" barrier creates an ethereal and utilitarian divider on the new patio.

Start with the goods. Being a local organization, our team was familiar with the aquarium and its locational challenges of being on the ground floor. The team at the aquarium are phenomenal educators and have worked to develop  exciting educational engagement opportunities–while staying true to the conservation mission of Heal the Bay. The touch tanks, eels and bevy of fishes are icing on the cake... problem was no one could easily find them. Great Scott! This place needs some wayfinding!

A quick assessment document was drafted to capture the wayfinding path(s) of the visitor. Where do they park and arrive at the pier? How and where could we tell them to come and visit our below-the-pier adventure? What pain points did visitors experience during their stay at the pier?

Once these questions were answered, we set our sights on these newly identified locations and developed an environmental graphics system that contained both directional and promotional information.

A request from our lovely client asked that we update the illustrative style previously seen at the aquarium. We made sure that the new illustrations we created accurately represented the species we were highlighting and they were attractive to adults, teens and even the littlest of visitors!

In tandem with the environmental graphics, we went to task with the larger team to define circulation for new physical distancing practices and drafted plans for a new "kelp" barrier fence inspired by the ocean itself.

With a new physical barrier in place, the aquarium is able to clearly define a one-way circulation plan for visitors, allowing for both physical distancing needs (during open hours) as well as security needs (when closed).

"Working with Davina and the whole team at Create Crisp has been an absolute joy. Their design strategy is spot on and out of the box simultaneously, which I did not think was possible. In addition to being world class artists and designers, they are also supportive, patient, and communicate extremely well. I plan to work with Create Crisp every opportunity I get, to develop the interactive, educational spaces for Heal the Bay Aquarium and all of the Aquarium's design needs."
– Marslaidh Ryan, Heal the Bay Aquarium Director

While we didn't work on this promo video for Heal the Bay, we enjoyed using this as inspiration and a representation of the brand of our client, their goal of environment conservation and stewardship, and their desire to connect and teach generations to come.