Central Coast Aquarium could reopen with new US$12m glazed facility

by Lauren Heath-Jones | 19 Mar 2020
People miss having an aquarium, so I think keeping to a timeline that's realistic is our initial challenge
– Christine Johnson, executive director of The CCA

The Central Coast Aquarium (CCA) in Morro Bay, California, could reopen with a contemporary and light-filled glazed building designed by RRM Design Group.

The aquarium closed to the public in 2018, but proposals as part of a feasibility study suggest transforming the existing facility into a new 16,000sq ft (1,500sq m) aquarium.

Concept drawings outline a multi-level building with full-height glazing in places, balconies and outdoor spaces.

The new facility would house 20 hands-on interactive exhibits, created by aquatic exhibit design firm Tenji, including an exhibit that extends outside and would be visible to the public from the nearby harbour walk.

There would also be wet and dry exploration spaces, temporary exhibit spaces, flexible classrooms, meeting rooms and offices.

The council, which met on 10 March, has several months to decide whether or not it will back the project, which, according to a new feasibility study, could attract up to 66,000 visitors per year.

"A new aquarium in Morro Bay tells the story that no other community can tell: the story of two extreme and exciting environmental contrasts where the calmness of the estuary differs drastically from the wildness of the open ocean and how marine species depend upon each environment to thrive," designers said in a statement to the council.

"The goal of the aquarium is to focus on the unique estuary and open ocean environment by providing opportunities for immersive, interactive marine science learning in order to encourage good stewardship of the estuary and the ocean now and into the future."

The feasibility study estimates that it would cost US$10 - US$12m (£8 - £10m, €9m - €11m) to transform the CCA's existing space but that the new facility could attract up to 66,000 visitors per year. Morro Bay City Council now has several months to consider the proposal.

Central Coast Aquarium  Morro Bay  California  Morro Bay City Council  RRM Design Group  Tenji  Christine Johnson 
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