The Living Planet Aquarium is in the process of building a new 136,000 square foot aquarium, located in Draper, Utah, just off 12300 S. and I-15. Along with many more animals, the facility will include themed galleries, interactive exhibits, spaces for educational programs and events, and more. The construction team broke ground on October 24, 2012, but that was by no means the beginning.
|Sketch of Discover Utah exhibits|
|Slot canyon cross section|
|Sketch of cave exhibit|
The exterior of the building is designed for both visibility and to convey a theme. “We wanted the building to be easy to spot, to become a recognizable landmark for visitors,” Ari said. “We designed a flowing shape and curved structure to give a fluid and aquatic feel without being literal. We wanted to avoid using specific ocean-related objects. Instead, the curve could evoke the fin of a shark, a crescent moon, or something else, leaving much to the visitor's imagination.”
Once the size of the aquarium was determined, the shape of the exhibits and the exterior evolved together. The designers have created a plan to best utilize the space. There will be several exhibit galleries, including Journey to South America, Discover Utah, Ocean Explorer, Deep Sea Gallery, and a Changing Exhibits Gallery that will host new exhibits every year. “Each gallery focuses on telling a story, and each exhibit within that gallery helps to tell it,” said Chris. All of the animals from the current aquarium will all be moving to the new aquarium, and part of the designers' work involved re-using much of what is in the current building. The current penguin tank will become the new caiman tank, while the caimans' old tank will become the new anaconda tank, each animal getting an upgrade in the process. For the penguins, sharks, and otters, new larger tanks have been designed as the centerpieces of their galleries.
|Discover Utah gallery|
According to Ari and Chris, the biggest challenge in the design process is scope. “The project is almost overwhelmingly large,” said Ari. “The space is huge, and for each design element, we have to consider all of the details.” Chris shared an example. “The Discover Utah gallery will contain a slot canyon that visitors can travel through. Where exactly in the gallery will it be located? What will its twists and turns look like? All of this must be mapped out beforehand.” The process of imagining these elements continues behind the scenes, while digging begins on-site. The physical building has just begun, but the plans needed to realize it are well on their way to completion.
|Ari and model of South America gallery|
|Rendering of South America gallery|