Pacific Visions Unveiled

3/23/2016

The Aquarium of the Pacific today unveiled the design of its new Pacific Visions wing, a 29,000-square-foot, two-story sustainable structure designed by EHDD. The first major expansion project ever undertaken by the Aquarium, Pacific Visions will be a new focal point of the institution, providing facilities that integrate the arts and sciences while offering visitors innovative ways to understand our connections to Earth, the World Ocean, and contemporary scientific research.

Slated to open in late 2018, Pacific Visions is designed as a biomorphic structure that evokes the size, depth, variability, luminosity, and biological diversity of the Pacific Ocean. The building will house a state-of-the-art immersive theater, expanded special exhibition and art galleries, and additional space for live animal exhibits. It will provide a revitalized front plaza and exhibition hall with space for installations, performances, and cultural events. The Aquarium of the Pacific is developing the project as the second and final phase of a Campus Master Plan adopted in 2005. The plan’s aim is to enhance the institution’s role as a community gathering place where scientists, policymakers, and the public can celebrate the inhabitants and ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean and explore today’s most important environmental issues. When completed, Pacific Visions will increase the institution’s audience capacity to 2 million visitors a year.

“Pacific Visions represents an unprecedented opportunity to help our growing audience examine the vital and changing relationship between humans and the World Ocean and choose paths to make that relationship sustainable,” said Dr. Jerry R. Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president & CEO. “We want our visitors to leave Pacific Visions feeling more deeply engaged with the living ocean, knowledgeable about the challenges that face it and us, and empowered to make better decisions and share their new understanding with others.”

Complementing the Aquarium’s existing building, also designed by EHDD, Pacific Visions has a façade that strikingly responds throughout the day to changing light and climatic conditions with varying colors to mirror the effect of sunlight rippling on the ocean’s surface. The façade, which doubles as a ventilated rain screen, is made up of more than 800 colored, light diffusing glass panels covering an area of 18,000 square feet. Each panel is uniquely sized to accommodate the curves and angles of the building’s form.

Two principal components of the design include:

Honda Pacific Visions Theater: The two-story, 300-seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater will include a 130-foot-wide by 32-foot-tall screen, curved in a 180 degree arc and a retractable 30-foot-diameter floor projection disc to immerse visitors in a virtual ocean environment. The theater will bring to life epic ocean stories, allowing audiences to discover new species, witness the processes and phenomena of Earth’s ecosystems, and grapple with the many challenges facing the natural world. Each seat will be wired for interactivity, providing visitors opportunities to explore a range of possible trajectories for our planet and underscoring how human action can lead to a more sustainable future. All stories will be developed by the Aquarium in partnership with leading scientists, filmmakers, storytellers, and digital artists. The infrastructure created for this theater will allow for media-rich performances, panel discussions, community meetings, and educational seminars that can incorporate live broadcast feeds and streaming media.

Changing Exhibit Gallery: The expanded Changing Exhibit Gallery will double the existing changing exhibit gallery space, adding a total of 6,000 square feet. The new space will feature live animals and immersive interactive multi-media displays and expansive dynamic projected wall murals to complement and foster deeper engagement with the narrative and themes of each temporary exhibit. These exhibits will be rotated periodically to reflect current scientific issues and discoveries and will be developed in conjunction with the theater experiences. 

“It’s not often that we have the opportunity to expand upon a building that we have designed before,” said EHDD Design Principal Marc L’Italien. “The new building flows with the original building, but it's also a counterpoint to it. We’re really excited about Pacific Visions because there is depth and mystery to the form and to the glass skin. Depending on the time of day and where you're viewing the building from, it will appear differently to everyone, forever changing, just like the oceans that inspired it.”

For more information on the original building and the new expansion, click on the following: Pacific Visions, Aquarium of the Pacific.

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