Glass is arguably one of the most important elements in modern architectural design. Not only does glass provide a variety of health and wellness benefits to building occupants, it also provides designers with the opportunity to create a truly distinct look that achieves the aesthetic goals of their project. At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, glass is at the forefront of the design. Its usage is simply stunning in matching the mood and theme of one of North America’s most popular aquariums.
Amazing Exhibits on the Inside, Stunning Glass on the Outside
The Aquarium of the Pacific displays 12,000 creatures s and over 100 exhibits that celebrate the planet’s largest and most diverse body of water – the Pacific Ocean. These galleries represent the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific, the temperate Southern California/Baja region, and the warm coral reefs and lagoons of the Tropical Pacific. (1) The exterior structure is as breathtaking as the interior, with a stunning use of glass that covers much of the building and gives it a flowing look reminiscent of the ocean. Approaching visitors take notice even from a distance and feel like they’re walking toward an aquamarine world.
What is this Glass that Stands Out so Impressively?
EHDD Architecture designed the 18,000 square foot all-glass façade. The outboard lite is composed of Walker Textures® Velour acid-etched finish on Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass by Vitro Architectural Glass. The Walker material was laminated and fabricated into its final size by the team at Pulp Studio. The combination of the etched finish on the exterior surface along with the low-iron glass substrate allows the color to pop without the inconvenience of glare reflecting off the outside surface.
Another benefit of the full surface etch on the exterior is that it prevents bird collisions by muting the reflection of the surrounding vegetation. California possesses state-wide voluntary bird-safe construction guidelines and mandatory legislation in cities like Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco.The Aquarium of the Pacific is well positioned to abide by these evolving bird friendly building standards.
“The collaboration between glass manufacturers, fabricators and the architectural teams is of prime importance in the design process. Especially for innovative projects such as the Aquarium of the Pacific,” said Danik Dancause, Marketing Operations Manager of Walker Glass. “It is important for all parties involved in such a project to understand the limitations and possibilities that glass can provide. We were happy to support Pulp Studio in this journey of countless sample mock-ups to finally get the right glass combination to achieve the architects’ vision.”
As the architect, EHDD brought a legacy of sustainable design and an impeccable track record of stunning projects from a wide range of end use applications. Now with the Aquarium of the Pacific they have another stunner, creating a glass façade that truly stands out and makes the structure come alive long before you enter it.
Inside the Look of the Façade
According to a project profile published on GlassOnWeb, the design team saw the glass surface as an opportunity to make visitors think of the ocean. The architectural team took great care in the process to find the right mix and then leave it to the glass supply base to make their vision a reality. In the same article, it was noted that the various collaborators encountered a number of challenges on this project with regard to size and orientation of the glass, but obviously in the end they overcame all potential issues and together provided a product that makes this project incredibly special.
What this Means for the Future of Glass Use
Architectural glass has the flexibility to do much more design-wise than most give it credit for. Using colors and matching elements with etching can make a world of difference. Whether it’s an ocean theme like this project, replicating the look of “ice” at a famous arena in Montreal, glass can be used to capture any visual aesthetic imaginable. It takes genuine collaboration and the desire to challenge the norm. EHDD absolutely was in challenge mode on the Aquarium of the Pacific and Walker was ready to provide a product that allowed multiple lites of glass to create a look far beyond what previous generations could imagine. The Aquarium of the Pacific is a project that truly stands outs, thanks to the glass choices and attributes.