The 55,000-square-foot expansion to the aquarium’s gallery space, main entrance, and outdoor plaza nearly doubles one of Vancouver’s landmark attractions. It also greatly improves the habitats of more than 50,000 fish and animals currently housed in the facility.
Visitors might recognize Bill Reid’s statue, Chief of the Undersea World, which was unveiled in the original plaza in 1984. The iconic West Coast art sculpture was removed for safekeeping during construction and has since been brought back to permanently preside over the entrance plaza.
The water and West Coast themes are apparent as visitors head toward the new building—which specifically integrates the new structure with its urban park surroundings. The east wall features new dual-coloured metal paneling. The unique tiles seem to magically change from pink to green as visitors walk along, just as fish scales do.
Two of the building’s three levels are below ground. The lowest level contains system mechanics for future expansion, and the second level is the public area connected to the whale pools. In addition to enhancements to the visitor experience, the scope of work included replacing ageing infrastructure and mechanical systems, expanding electrical capacity with new emergency power backup, and installing a new water-treatment system.