John G. Shedd Aquarium

John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Re-imagining a pioneering cultural institution

In 1996, EHDD in association with Perkins + Will developed a 20-year master plan to address the anticipated growth of the venerated John G. Shedd Aquarium into the next century. The plan expanded the facility to accommodate its high visitation while respecting its scale, materials and ornament.

EHDD collaborated with the aquarium and its internal design team with design, management and construction documents of the Aquarium’s Go Overboard! retail store and two major exhibits; Amazon Rising and Wild Reef: Sharks at Shedd.

Of the exhibits, Caribbean Reef (designed by Lyons/Zaremba Exhibit Planning & Design) opened in 1999, restoring the rotunda to its original splendor and adding a multi-media display. In 2000, Amazon Rising reorganized two existing galleries to lead visitors through the seasonal ebb and flow of the Amazon River. Wild Reef: Sharks at Shedd tells the story of the coral reefs off the Philippine coast. Since opening in 2003, this exhibit – including a 450,000 gallon tank featuring pelagic sharks – has helped boost attendance at this Chicago institution.

In addition to these exhibits, EHDD renovated the Shedd’s entrances and bus/vehicular turnaround and drop-off areas. Our work at the Shedd reflects the changing attitudes of museums, zoos and aquariums. The project addresses the issues of conservation and sustainability, both through its architecture and the exhibits within. It delicately balances restoration, renovation and a new addition—all within the same building campaign.


Size : 132,000 SQ FT

2007 Top Honors, Exhibit Award

American Zoo and Aquarium Association

2001 Merit Award for Rehab Construction

Chicago Building Congress

2001 Exhibit of the Year

American Zoo and Aquarium Association (Amazon Rising)

2001 Top Honors, Exhibit Award

American Association of Museums (first ever for an aquarium)

2000 Interior Architecture Award

AIA Chicago (Caribbean Reef & Rotunda)

1999 Interior Architecture Award

AIA Chicago (Go Overboard! Gift Store)

1998 Design Award

International Interior Design Association (Go Overboard! Gift Store)




San Francisco

500 Treat Ave #201
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 285-9193