Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Personifying waterfront revitalization and ocean stewardship

As one of the first of its kind, the Monterey Bay Aquarium departed from traditional aquarium design by focusing on the unique marine ecology of one habitat: the Monterey Bay and its shoreline. Resting half over the water and half on the land, the building actively participates with the environment that it examines. The aquarium sits sensitively among the existing sardine processing plants and cannery buildings, utilizing the foundations—and rekindling the spirit—of the old Hovden Cannery. EHDD has worked on several projects with the aquarium since 1984, continuing to enhance and improve the visitor experience with every addition.

The aquarium is not just a “display” of marine life. The design strategy was to create an immersive experience that excites visitors’ senses and invokes a feeling of wonder. The aquarium presents more than 100 galleries and exhibits recreating the habitats of Monterey Bay. Some of the most spectacular habitats are constructed in massive acrylic-enclosed tanks, including a jewel jellyfish tank, a towering giant-kelp forest in a 335,000-gallon three-story tank, and a million-gallon shark tank.

The technical requirements to support such environments are as impressive as the habitats themselves. The water is drawn directly from the bay itself, allowing the natural organisms that nourish the bay to be emitted into the exhibits during evening hours (during viewing hours the water is filtered for more clarity). The building temperature is controlled by a heat-exchange system that uses the Bay’s water for cooling. The experience is what amounts to a leisurely stroll through the ocean without getting wet.



Size : 130,000 sq. ft. (original building)

2011 25-Year Award

AIA California Council

1988 National Honor Award

American Institute of Architects

1988 Honor Award

 AIA Monterey Bay

1987 Top Honor Award

Current Project, Waterfront Center Awards Program for Excellence on the Water

1985 Honor Award

AIA California Council

1984 Award of Merit

ACI Northern California Chapter




San Francisco

500 Treat Ave #201
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 285-9193