A strong, sinuous structure
The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific is expanding its facilities with the construction of a 29,000 ft2 new wing that includes a state of the art immersive theater, expanded exhibition and art galleries, and additional space for live animal exhibits.
This extension is organic and biomorphic in design, and will be clad in a ventilated rainscreen consisting of over 800 triple-layered glass panels. These panels will each be made of a different material with varying levels of reflectivity. The exterior of the aquarium will resemble the effect of sunlight traveling through water.
BuroHappold Engineering is working in conjunction with the architect to realize this complex glass facade. Given its location, the structure must be strong enough to endure high levels of seismic activity and powerful coastal winds, while maintaining an impression of light and effortless fluidity.
To achieve this, our facade engineers undertook meticulous design development to ensure the unique combination of stresses imposed on the extension could be withstood, without compromising its appearance. We subsequently incorporated several stability measures into our design to ensure its strength and durability.
For example, the glass panels of the outer shell of the facade will not be sealed together, affording greater flexibility of movement and load resistance. Because this means it won’t be weathertight, we’ve incorporated an additional waterproof layer between the interior of this glass structure and the exterior of the building beneath. This will be invisible from both outside and inside the new extension so as not to detract from its aesthetic appeal.
The input of our team on this project has enabled our client’s vision of a striking, sinuous facade to be fulfilled. The result will be a structure that appears to flow like a wave out from the main building, creating a beautiful and memorable first impression for visitors.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply