(Photographs by the Business Journal’s Brandon Richardson; renderngs provided by the Aquarium of the Pacific)

The Aquarium of the Pacific’s (AOP) new 29,000-square-foot Pacific Visions wing is its first major expansion project since opening in 1998. “When it opens, the new wing will be distinguished among aquariums as a bold and unique venue for connecting the public with science and environmental issues, and for exploring our relationship with our planet,” Jerry Schubel, AOP president and CEO, said. “It will also increase the Aquarium’s visitor capacity, and enhance our reputation on a regional and national scale.” The project includes the two-story, 300-seat immersive Honda Pacific Visions Theater. The theater features a 130-foot-long, 32-foot-tall, 180-degree-arced digital projection wall and a 30-foot diameter floor projection disc. Other elements of the expansion include special exhibition and art gallery space, and live animal exhibits. Designed by San Francisco-based EHDD, the architecture firm that designed the original Aquarium more than 20 years ago, the exterior of the building is covered by 800 uniquely sized and angled glass panels. The design is meant to mimic the reflective qualities of the sun on the deep ocean. The $53 million wing is slated to open in spring 2019. “Just two years ago, we broke ground on Pacific Visions,” Schubel said. “It is exciting to see the project go from renderings to the biomorphic building standing before us.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.