2009 – Thinc Design

At Thinc, Chris was a member of the team that executed designs for the California Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium and walk-thru Rainforest environments, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s Beijing Olympic Pavilion and the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near Ground Zero in New York City.

2009 - Thinc Design » Summary

Between September 2007 and October 2009, I worked as an exhibit designer at Thinc Design in New York. My projects included work with the teams that produced the Johnson & Johnson Olympic Pavillion at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 50,000 square foot Steinhart Aquarium at the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site in Lower Manhattan. I also participated in early-phase work for a variety of corporate and institutional clients.

The Steinhart Aquarium has been awarded a 2009 IDEA Award for Environments from the IDSA as well as a 2009 Event Design Award for Best Museum Environment.


2007 - 9/11 Memorial Preview Site » Design

Chris Cummings
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9/11 Preview Site

Working under Thinc’s design director and alongside one graphic designer, Chris acted as the primary exhibit designer for this two thousand square foot retail and exhibit facility directly across the street from Ground Zero. Chris sheperded the project from brainstorming and concept sketches through opening. Collaborating directly with museum staff, conservators and content developers to translate their broad conceptual goals into a build-able reality, Chris helped the team balance many competing requirements. On the execution side, Chris coordinated with media producers, graphic fabricators, display case manufacturers, AV integrators, retail consultants, general contractors and project architects to ensure the project was executed as the museum team envisioned. The entire project was concepted, realized and opened in under two months.

The Preview Site remained open for many months after the Memorial and Museum opened, educating thousands of visitors to the area every week.

2008 - California Academy of Sciences » Interaction Design

Dive Station

Dive Stations are designed to allow aquarium visitors to learn more about specimens from three ecosystems represented at the institution- Philippine Coral Reef, Amazon Rain Forest, and California Coast. There is also a Dive Station as part of the Water Planet gallery. Visitors can handle actual specimens, from tree frogs to great white shark’s tooth to sea slugs. By placing the specimens on different ‘hotspots’, visitors can learn about the specimen from a variety of perspectives, from Biology to it’s connection to humans to the Academy’s role in research or conservation.

The exhibit was designed with the goal of providing an accessible experience for a variety of age groups, with content that the Academy could easily update and evolve to suit its needs.

In the Water Planet,  visitors learn about how life has adapted to thrive in water in each of it’s various conditions – warm and cold, saline and fresh, dry and wet. The Water Imagers were designed to supplement the nearby living displays by providing additional stories within each theme. For example, next to the Beaded Lizard enclosure, visitors learn about how other lifeforms that have adapted to dry conditions. These interactives’ close proximity to living exhibits, water effects (and visitors!) made for an interesting technical and design challenge.

2008 - California Academy of Sciences » Contract Administration

With dozens of contractors tasked with executing the 50,000 sq ft of live displays, animal enclosures, exhibits, graphics, lighting, software, and AV that collectively create the Steinhart Aquarium experience, the Thinc Design team had our work cut out for us.

In order for all of this work to come together smoothly, Chris was tasked with coordinating work between Thinc’s design leads, various contractors, the Academy content teams and the architect.

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