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What To Expect at the New Seattle Aquarium's Ocean Pavillion

October 27, 2023 By CityPASS

Since 1977, the Seattle Aquarium has brought the magic and mystery of the oceans and seas to the public. This non-profit aquarium aims to educate people on the importance of conservation while highlighting local marine life from the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. In 2019, the aquarium announced a new major project with the Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion expansion.

In partnership with LMN Architects, the Seattle Aquarium is set to open the new waterfront pavilion sometime in 2024. This is far more than just a new exhibit or installation. The Ocean Pavilion will be adjacent to the main aquarium building and will serve as both a marine habitat and public space. The mission is to bring the importance and wonder of the seas to the public in a free, immersive exhibit open to all.

What the New Ocean Pavilion Development Brings to the Table

The Ocean Pavilion is an innovative project that aims to challenge how we think of public spaces. While the Seattle Aquarium's current exhibits largely focus on local animal life from the surrounding waters, the expansion will also feature tropical fish and sea creatures from far-reaching corners of the globe.

Here's what you can expect to see at this exciting new waterfront aquarium in the heart of downtown Seattle.

Ocean Pavilion Immersive Experience

One of the coolest things about the new ocean aquarium is the exhibit form itself. The installations are immersive living exhibits that feature digital storytelling. As you see the plants and animals in action you'll be able to hear their stories and learn about their life cycles. Volunteer staff from the Seattle Aquarium will be walking around to share their knowledge with guests and answer questions.

When you approach the Ocean Pavilion, you'll see the first of its habitat structures, the Coral Triangle. This serves as the Seattle Aquarium shark tank and will be home to sharks, rays, and various types of fish and sea plants. It recreates a marine environment found in Southeast Asia and will feature almost 30 different species of coral.

As you see these plants and animals up close through habitat acrylic windows, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for them and the importance of healthy sea life. When we can help protect and regenerate the homes and life support systems of these plants and animals, we can help save our planet as a whole.

Offsite Animal Care Center

The Ocean Pavilion will also feature an Animal Care Center. This won't be located inside the Seattle Aquarium, but off-site where all kinds of animals can receive top-notch care led by a team of experts. This center is critically important to the new expansion since it is the core of the aquarium's rehabilitation efforts.

The animals that will make the Ocean Pavilion their permanent home will first stop in the Animal Care Center. The team will monitor their health and progress as the animals adjust to their new home and environment. From here, they will be fully assessed to make sure that they're ready to move into the ocean tank at the Pavilion.

Pike Place Market and Waterfront Access

Conservation and education are the core foundations of the central waterfront pavilion, along with its community focus. The current aquarium building is on Pier 59. The new project will expand Pier 60 while increasing accessibility to the popular Pike Place Market and the waterfront. The Ocean Pavilion will connect with another new feature of the area, the Overlook Walk, which will offer stunning views of the Seattle ocean shore below.

As the expansion continues over the years, the goal is to revamp the west side of Pier 59 to give visitors even better views of Puget Sound while continuing to develop the Seattle Aquarium's conservation and education efforts. Not only that, Pier 60 will eventually turn into a living, breathing habitat for the fish, animals, and birds that call the Sound home.

The Ocean Pavilion will have a rooftop park complete with plants and landscaping for locals and tourists to enjoy. To make it accessible for all, the new pavilion will have both elevators and stairs. Best of all, though, the Ocean Pavilion will be free for everyone.

Living Building Challenge Petal Certification

As the aquarium truly believes in conservation and protecting the Earth's natural resources, it aims to become the first building owned by the City of Seattle to receive the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification. This is a certification to show that a structure is following specific sustainability standards.

These standards are thought of as petals on a flower, which is an efficient structure that uses its materials and resources wisely. These petals include:

  • Beauty
  • Equity
  • Materials
  • Place
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Health + Happiness

LBC Petal Certification demonstrates that a building, like the Ocean Pavilion, connects those who frequent it to natural light, air, nature, and community. The structure needs to be self-sufficient and create a positive impact on both the community it serves and the natural environment that it interacts with.

Be the First to Experience Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion

If you are planning a trip to the Seattle Aquarium to see the new marine pavilion when it opens, pick up a Seattle CityPASS® ticket to get the most out of your trip! With two different tickets to choose from, you can experience either three or five of Seattle's top attractions, including the aquarium. Compared to buying individual entrance tickets, you can save up to . Make planning your trip easy — and affordable — by getting your CityPASS® ticket before you arrive in Seattle.

Seattle Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Seattle, we recommend finding lodging near Seattle's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header Image Courtesy of Seattle Aquarium

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