One of the city’s largest attractions, the Aquarium of the Pacific, is about to become even bigger. A major expansion of the facility, located at Rainbow Harbor, is in the works, and Aquarium President and CEO Jerry Schubel told the Business Journal he expects the project to break ground within a year.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is planning a $53 million expansion called “Pacific Visions.” The new wing is to be built on the Aquarium’s front lawn. (Rendering provided by the Aquarium of the Pacific)


Plans for the new wing of the Aquarium, called Pacific Visions, to be built on the facility’s front lawn, include a 300-seat interactive theater, an art gallery, an orientation gallery and an exhibition space. The 23,000-square-foot space is to be entirely devoted to dialogue and information about “the changing relationship of people with the earth, including the world ocean,” Schubel said.


“The point is that we humans have been around here on this planet for a very short time – 200,000 years compared with a 4.6 billion-year-old planet. Yet, because of the way our population has grown, we have altered the planet and ocean, [and] we have had a greater impact than any other individual species in the history of life on earth,” Schubel said. “We have to redefine our relationship to the earth and the ocean and to all the other living things with which we share this planet, because ultimately our success depends upon the success of other plants and animals.”

After visitors exit the Aquarium’s new planned theater, they will enter an exhibit gallery featuring live sea creatures to learn more about how human interactions with the earth and its oceans affect wildlife. (Rendering provided by the Aquarium of the Pacific)


The Aquarium of the Pacific is the perfect place to tell this important story, Schubel said, noting that the planned expansion will combine science, technology, art and live animals to do so.


The focal point of the expansion is the Honda Theater, in which all seats will be wired for interactivity, Schubel explained. The Aquarium plans to create films around the topic of humanity’s relationship with the earth to show in the theater, which may also be used to show live feeds from the ocean. Prior to entering the theater, guests will go through an art gallery and then an orientation area that will include displays and interactive technology based on the same topic.

The focal point of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s planned expansion is the 300-seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater, where the institution will show interactive films about humanity’s relationship with the earth, and air live feeds from the ocean. (Rendering provided by the Aquarium of the Pacific)


After exiting the theater, guests will enter an exhibit of live sea life. Schubel reflected, “The hope is that people will look at those animals in ways they never have, and understand that their fate and our fate are tightly intertwined.”


After breaking ground, Schubel said he expects the project to take 18 months to complete. The expansion is slated to increase the Aquarium’s capacity, with attendance expected to increase by 200,000 to 400,000 visitors per year.


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