Aquarium breaks ground April 3
schoolchildren kick off construction
of the next chapter in the Aquarium story
Tenn. (March 21, 2003) – The Tennessee Aquarium begins construction
of its 60,000-square-foot, $30 million expansion with a groundbreaking
event scheduled for April 3 at 10 a.m. The expansion, which is
set to open in the spring of 2005, will take visitors beneath
the waves and out to the open ocean.
Tennessee Aquarium tells the river’s story – following
the journey of a raindrop high in the Appalachian Forest to the
Gulf of Mexico. The new building is a natural extension of the
story of the water’s journey from the mountains to the sea,”
said Charlie Arant, Aquarium president.
new building’s centerpiece is an expansion of the Aquarium’s
Gulf of Mexico exhibit, explained Arant. This saltwater exhibit
is nearly eight times the size of the current Gulf exhibit, and
gives visitors a vast and endless view. Much like the open ocean,
the boundaries of the exhibit won’t be discernable.
gazing into a watery world and gaping at 10-foot-long sharks,
fierce barracuda, schools of silvery jacks and a mosaic of colorful
reef fish,” said Jackson Andrews, Aquarium director of husbandry
and operations. “Seen from various vantage points on several
levels, the Gulf tank will be surrounded by smaller galleries
that may feature unusual creatures like cuttlefish, squid and
sea floor of the new Gulf exhibit is unique among aquariums and
mimics the underwater Flower Garden at the National Marine Sanctuary
in the Gulf of Mexico, where coral formations unlike any others
in the world occur, said Andrews. A premiere diving destination,
the Flower Garden is 350 acres of massive coral reefs featuring
dense schools of tropical fish, sea rays, turtles and sharks.
visitors travel to the top of the new building, they’ll
be enveloped by natural light streaming in through a wall of windows
that showcases the natural beauty of the Tennessee River and the
mountains and hills beyond,” said Architect Peter Chermayeff
of Chermayeff, Sollogub & Poole, Inc. In addition to designing
the expansion, the Boston, Mass., firm was also the Aquarium’s
Chattanooga’s newest jewel will be an area that richly engages
the senses with many levels of discovery,” said Chermayeff.
The sunlit space is a place where visitors can get up close and
even hands-on with live animals.”
was our visitors who helped us decide what form the expansion
would take,” said Arant. “Through an extensive survey,
we discovered that visitors want to see saltwater exhibits that
are as compelling as our existing freshwater exhibits. They also
told us they want more animal encounters.”
“But the new building is more than an expansion –
bigger isn’t necessarily better,” explains Arant.
“The expansion results from a desire to provide a world-class
aquarium experience for our visitors.”
addition to the main galleries, the new building allows for strategic,
planned growth in the form of “shell” galleries –
large spaces that will allow new exhibits to be added in the future.
“This is important to the Aquarium’s mission of remaining
fresh, new and world class – and it gives us enormous flexibility
for our future.” said Arant.
Aquarium expansion will be a key element of the 21st Century Waterfront
Plan, a 129-acre vision that evolved out of a broad-based civic
planning process that capitalizes on our greatest natural resource,
the Tennessee River.
great about Chattanooga goes far beyond the Aquarium. Think about
all that’s happened here in the last decade,” said
Arant. “Visitors come to Chattanooga because we’re
a family-friendly destination where you can experience several
attractions as well as our natural beauty. The Aquarium’s
expansion is one piece of the larger Waterfront Plan -- a plan
that was created to improve Chattanooga.”
Expansion at a Glance:
Location: Approximately 75 feet to the east of the original
60,000 square feet and holds 650,000 gallons of water
As a “sister” to the original Aquarium building
that has become such a landmark for Chattanooga’s riverfront
renaissance, the new building also has a translucent, peaked
roof. (The original building is 130,000 square feet, the height
of a 12-story building and holds 400,000 gallons of water.)
$30 million – Funded by a $10 million Aquarium bond issue
and $20 million raised through combined efforts with the 21st
Century Waterfront fundraising campaign.
Architect: Chermayeff, Sollogub & Poole, Inc. – Boston,
Mass. – The three principle architects also designed the
original Aquarium building.
April 3, 2003
opening: spring 2005