Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) received the 2011 25-Year Award from AIA CC (American Institute of Architects California Council). The award - whose past recipients include Ghirardelli Square, The Oakland Museum, The Eames House and the addition to the San Francisco Institute - is given to projects completed 25 to 50 years ago that have stood the test of time. This year’s jurors were Anne Fougeron, FAIA, principal of Fougeron Architecture; Kevin V. O’Brien, AIA, principal of Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Inc.; Clifford Pearson, deputy editor of Architectural Record; Norman Strong, FAIA, principal of Miller Hull; and Cynthia Weese, FAIA, principal of Langley Weese Langley.
Completed in 1984, MBA was conceived by Packard family members and a few close friends. David and Lucile Packard funded the original project in its entirety.
MBA was a seminal project in the career of EHDD founding principal, Chuck Davis. Chuck’s vision for MBA was to design a great aquarium which was also a technically superior facility. Taking Monterey’s most recent regional story – of sardines, canning and John Steinbeck – Chuck reinvented a locale; thus creating a “place” which references the past but does not revere it, while looking to the future. Additionally, the project’s technical innovations have since become the industry standard for best practice design of aquariums. As he puts it, “I think the significance of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is two-fold. First, it was the first major aquarium in the world to focus on the local stories of a superb marine environment. Second, it was a building designed from the inside out, and yet it paid attention to, and focused on, being a building of its place and time, without the baggage of pretending it was something that it was not.”
Monterey Bay Aquarium remains a top-rated attraction in the US. It was ranked the #1 aquarium in the Zagat Survey US Family Travel Guide (2004). Beyond the economic revitalization it enabled for Monterey, MBA influenced aquarium design worldwide. As executive director Julie Packard notes, “Over the past 25 years, there has been a proliferation of aquariums throughout the world. Many of them look and feel like the Monterey Bay Aquarium because they have been influenced by its design. Chuck’s design changed the way people think about aquariums, which allowed the Monterey Bay Aquarium to change the way people think about the ocean.”