How Can We Create an Environment to Help Educate the Coastal Communities of Fairfield, Connecticut on the Long Island Sound?



What is the Problem?

Fairfield, Connecticut one of the fastest growing counties in Connecticut and coastal communities like this all across the state of Connecticut and New York have the second-highest population density in the Northeast. With this fast increase in amount of people, the Long Island Sound, a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, between the U.S. state of Connecticut to the north, and Long Island, New York to the South, is at risk of pollution like never before, causing unsafe swimming conditions and harming the wide variety of marine life both in the water and along the coast. The more people there are, the more important it will be to educate the public on protecting this body of water. A place to help educate the local community of kids and adults alike as well as an area for researchers to conduct studies to better understand the Long Island Sound and how to protect it is currently not available and would be highly beneficial for everyone and help to achieve the sustainable development goal #14, Life Below Water. 

The Site 

The site for this building will be Sherwood Island State Park. This has direct access to I-95, one of the major highways along the East Coast and is only a few minutes away from Westport and a short drive from other coastal towns which makes it an easy attraction. It will be located along the shore so not only is it easy to get to, it is in a beautiful location right on the Long Island Sound. It has has 238 acres of beach, wetlands, and woodlands and there is already a nature center located in the park but my project focuses more on the Long Island Sound and it’s marine environment so it could either join the educational efforts of the Nature Center or be independent from it.


Site Analysis
Close-up view of build-site


I wanted to create a place that is exciting to go to and acts both as a center to educate people and to have a comfortable experience with the environment around them. In order to do this it was important for me to include the following details in my design: A private office space for the employees, private and public restrooms, touch tanks, classroom and lab areas for learning and research, an office and chamber for the on-site researcher, an outdoor area, an open floorpan to allow for an easy flow of people, an elevator for easy access to the second floor, and a vestibule maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. 


The following images are a series of designs from my initial thoughts into a final 3D Sketchup Design

Rough Bubble-Diagram
Improved Schematic Design
3D Floor Plan of 1st Floor

Final Design

First Floor
Second Floor

The Marine Education Center is 155 feet long and 60 feet with a 10 foot and 15 foot deck spanning the southern and eastern exterior. There is a parking lot that already exists where the users can then access the marine center via a walkway. They enter the building into the Lobby and can then walk through the exhibit hall with infographics and touch tanks. There are classrooms designed for school kids from 3rd grade up until 12th grade as well as research labs for any students or adults interesting in conducting marine research with the onsite researcher who has their own quarters on the second floor. In addition, there is an open air tank to view the marine life and research labs on the second floor as well. The users can experience the touch tanks from the inside or from the outside and get to view the Long Island Sound by looking out from the southern end of the building with a 125 foot glass wall. It also features an elevator with a glass frame to allow for easy access to the second floor and a different to view the Long Island Sound.


  • Would this design and ideology behind it draw you to come here and learn? Why or why not?


  • How well do you think you would be able to learn about your environment through touch-tanks and a specialized classroom/lab experience? 


  • Does your community have anything like this? If not, would you want to have something similar? Why or why not? 


  • What other ways do you think people can effectively learn about their environment?


  1. Great job!

  2. What a wonderful proposal! I love the idea and the meaningful and thoughtful reasoning behind each aspect of this building. The style and features of the site do a beautiful job reflecting the purpose of the project. I love all the windows and that you took into account the rising and setting of the sun – really speaks to the appreciation of nature that this project is meant to inspire and preserve. If this proposal was carried out, I’m positive it would be a statewide success!

  3. Looks great! I really like how it’s sleek design seamlessly fits with the surroundings of Long Island Sound and how it combines functionality and aesthetics as it is able to effectively teach visitors about the environment of the sound as well as enabling researchers to effectively work and live in the area while also integrating well with the scenery of Sherwood Island. Overall great job!

  4. Excellent idea and well executed!

  5. This look incredible! Educating people about the importance of clean and safe water is so important and a state park with lots of visitation is the ideal location. Sherwood Island is a wonderful resource with beautiful beaches and this would be a great draw and addition to the Nature Center. Amazing work Andrew!

  6. Hey Andrew! I could really see your design process as I viewed your project. Your sketchup designs are so clear and well done. Great job!

  7. Votre centre d’éducation marine est attrayant et rendrait possible une multitude de projets pour les villes et les institutions académiques environnantes. Il attirerait des excursions scolaires ainsi que les membres de la communauté désireux de se détendre et d’apprendre en même temps. J’aime particulièrement l’idée de la terrasse extérieure. Beau travail, Andrew !
    (English: Your marine education center looks inviting and would make possible a myriad of projects for the surrounding towns and educational institutions. It would be a great draw for school field trips as well as community members wanting to relax and learn at the same time. I especially like the idea of the exterior deck. Awesome job, Andrew!)

  8. wow this is so cool!!! super impressed with this!!

  9. Hi Andrew. I agree that water pollution is a huge problem, and I’m glad you chose this as your topic. Your idea to have an educational center seems great, and the final designs look great as well. I like how you want it to be a place were people can enjoy the area. To answer your third question, I do not believe my community does have something like this. I would definitely want an educational center that could help with educating others about water pollution, for more awareness leads to more action.

  10. Hi Andrew! It is great that you are addressing the problem of water pollution. For your site analysis, I am very impressed with your attention to detail on the site and how you plan on incorporating your structure into the area. I also think your sketches and designs are illustrated clearly and well-detailed. Your final SketchUp design has been done very well and I think your idea has great potential to become a reality. Great job!

Leave a Reply