SFO-based EHDD Architects complete Toledo Zoo aquarium's US$25m redevelopment

by Tom Anstey | 27 Mar 2015

Ohio’s Toledo Zoo has reopened its aquarium following a near three-year, US$25m (€21.5m, £16.4m) renovation, which has seen the interior of the historic facility revamped to provide a brand new, world-class visitor experience.

The aquarium, which first opened in 1939, was closed in 2012 for the renovations. The new development has almost tripled the amount of water inside the aquarium.

The building’s historic exterior architecture, by the Works Progress Administration, has been preserved during the construction phase. For the renovation, San Francisco-based EHDD was selected in 2010 as project architect, while local firm Rudolph-Libbe worked as construction manager.

The aquarium’s new saltwater Pacific Reef holds 90,000 gallons of water – nearly 12 times the size of the aquarium’s previous largest tank. In addition, two touch tanks will allow visitors to interact with an array of sea creatures, including sharks and stingrays and a display of South African penguins. In total, the aquarium will house 32 main exhibits, plus further small tanks.

“It’s a real public aquarium now, it’s not a small zoo aquarium like it was,” said aquarium curator, Jay Hemdal, speaking to the Toledo Blade. “An aquarium fits in really well with our mission [as a zoo], which is to inspire our visitors and to educate and entertain.

“We did maintain zone geography which means the fish that are exhibited together are found in the same region. The Pacific Reef has animals from the Pacific, while the Gulf of Mexico [tank] has animals from the gulf,” he continued.

“If we’ve done our job correctly, we’ve excited them and inspired them to go out and make a difference in terms of aquatic conservation once they leave. We want people to have an enjoyable time. If you learn something along the way, that’s great.”

Around 80 per cent of the project was funded by a tax levy from Lucas County, with the remaining 20 per cent coming from private donations.

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Toledo Zoo's US$25m aquarium renovation nearly complete

Ohio’s Toledo Zoo has reopened its aquarium following a near three-year, US$25m (€21.5m, £16.4m) renovation, which has seen the interior of the historic facility revamped to provide a brand new, world-class visitor experience. The aquarium, which first opened in 1939, was closed in 2012 for the renovations. The new development has almost tripled the amount of water inside the aquarium. The building’s historic exterior architecture, by the Works Progress Administration,
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Stingrays feature a significant part of the redeveloped aquarium / Shutterstock.com
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