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First Look at the Aquarium of the Pacific's Big Expansion Plans

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Renderings revealed for an undulating, high-tech new wing

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach announced a big, undulating expansion yesterday, revealing plans for a new wing they're calling Pacific Visions. The 29,000-square-foot addition will include a number of flashy components, including:

— A two-story, 300-seat immersive theater with a 32-foot-tall, curving screen and "floor projection disc"

— A new Changing Exhibit Gallery with live animals, multimedia displays, and "dynamic projected wall murals"

— An art gallery for cultural events and exhibitions, along with an orientation gallery with a 26-foot-wide "media wall"

— A new main entrance and front plaza with a larger ticketing area and members' entrance (much of the existing green space and plaza will stay)

The project was designed by EHDD, which designed the aquarium's original wave-like structure in the late '90s, along with HOK. The new addition quite clearly evokes both the undulating sea and a whale; its facade has 800 light-diffusing glass panels, all completely unique in size, but a single color, as EHDD lead Marc L’Italien pointed out at a press event yesterday.

Cortina Productions will design all the fancy new media and digital exhibits.

The new design has already been approved by all the relevant parties and the aquarium has already raised $40 million of its $53 million budget. The aquarium will stay open during construction; work is set to start next year and the new wing should open in late 2018.