Pittsburgh: As We Know It
A popup exhibit to spread awareness and encourage climate action, located at Carnegie Mellon's Miller ICA.
Climate change is no longer a distant notion. It's reality. Inspired by the Carnegie Musem of Natural History's We Are Nature exhibit, I designed this experience to expose CMU students, faculty, and staff to the local impacts of climate change and provide actionable items to make a difference.
Visitors will learn about climate change and the complications of Pittsburgh's recent heavy rains. Then, with Pittsburgh's industrial history as a role model for positive transformation, visitors will explore areas of climate action at CMU and develop their own plan to further the fight against climate change.
Interaction Design, Prototyping, 3D Modeling
Sketchup, Adobe Illustrator, Arduino
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Design Goal + Approach
Encourage visitors to integrate sustainability in their everyday lives.
Convince - Introduce to problem
Motivate - Provide solutions
Reinforce - Follow up on actions
Designing for a Target Audience
One of the key aspects of this exhibit was to provide a tailored experience to a specific target audience.
What impacts of climate change would they be able to relate to? What actions might they be inclined to take? This idea informed the way I structured the Interactive Map and Ferry Ticket Stations in particular.
Pittsburgh is a city known for its rainy weather, an issue exacerbated by climate change. Increased rainfall and more frequent storms can cause flooding, landslides, and sewer problems.
This interactive map highlights these incidents, pulling from local news sources and iconic landmarks to show how immediate the problems caused by climate change really are. Visitors step on sensors in the floor to explore these issues at their own pace.
Ferry Ticket Stations
The story of Pittsburgh is one closely tied to its three rivers -- The Manongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio. This geological and cultural cornerstone was my jumping off point to frame a set of ferry stations, where users could begin to "get on board" with climate action.
Visitors are given a ferry ticket, which serves as a physical memento to remind visitors of their responsibility in the fight against climate change, as well as to spread word about the exhibit.
While in the exhibit, the ticket provides an element of achievement to the experience. Visitors are challenged to complete each of the three stations (framed as "docks"), and collect their corresponding stamps so that they can share a photo of their completed ticket on social media.
Three Stations, Three Steps
Each station utilizes the unique position of CMU students and affiliates to enact change.
Dock 1 calls for visitors to spread the word, potentially through the use of the ferry ticket. On a college campus, news and ideas can quickly catch on.
At Dock 2, visitors are encouraged to participate in events hosted by campus organization Sustainable Earth, or to apply for grants provided by the school for the development of sustainability initiatives. These actions are an accessible touchpoint that draw visitors into a wider community where they can meet like-minded people and learn more about how they can protect the planet.
Dock 3 takes this a step further, using the position of visitors in the workforce to pressure corporations into adopting policies that minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A QR code at the station directs visitors to an online form where they can sign the ClimateVoice Pledge. Those who pledge also receive additional resources on climate action through their email inbox.
To wrap up the experience, visitors can use a virtual message board, visible on a wall of the exhibit, to reflect on what they've learned or share what climate actions they've taken in their everyday lives.
Often, an individual's actions can feel like just a drop in the bucket, but here visitors' cumulative efforts are visible to everyone. They can feel free to promote their own sustainability initiatives, or even brag about what they've done to cut back on emissions.
We're all in this together :)