View of the new aquarium from 5-Mile Drive
The new Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) in Tacoma, Washington celebrates the wonder of the oceans and our shared responsibility to protect them. The new 34,000 sf building replaces PDZA’s aging existing North Pacific Aquarium and expands the collection—in addition to the existing native Puget Sound species, the aquarium introduces a kelp forest and a 250,000 gallon warm water Baja Bay tank housing scalloped hammerhead sharks and sea turtles.
Exhibits at the new aquarium emphasize PDZA’s commitment to wildlife conservation, enhancing visitors’ awareness of their connection to—and impact on—ocean wellbeing. This message of engaged sustainability is reflected in the operational efficiencies of the building itself. The new aquarium employs an innovative drum filtration approach to radically reduce the energy use of the life support systems.
The aquarium is composed as a simple box with strategically-located barnacle-like additions that provide light, air, views, and passage for visitors and staff. Larger scale additions are clad in metal shingles that reflect the colors of the ocean.
Located on a steeply sloping site along the primary zoo pathway, the aquarium takes advantage of this topography to provide visitors a sense of submersion as they proceed down the ramped exhibit path. The aquarium also serves as gateway to the Rocky Shores exhibit beyond.