March 29, 2004
by Canadian Architect
Canadian firm B+H Architects will work to realize the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in downtown Niagara Falls, Canada. This $80M project is slated to open in 2005, and will be dramatically situated on the Niagara escarpment overlooking the Whirlpool gorge in a park-like setting. The design of the new 115,000 sf aquarium provides a multi-level, internally focused window into habitats of the aquatic world. Its form is inspired by the hydro-geological and hydro-ecological habitat of the Great Lakes fresh water system. The building consists of a main volume whose stone and glass layers evoke the glacial action that led to formation of the Great Lakes in which five smaller, glowing volumes representing the Great Lakes are embedded. The five volumes evoke cross-sectional views through the water, and the building’s imagery is grounded in such Canadian references as glacial formations, Canadian Shield landforms, Inuit sculptures and Lawren Harris arctic images. These design origins anchor the project in its Canadian site, and distinguish it from other Ripley’s aquariums. Where the volumes are visible from the outside the building, their skins emanate light, providing a beacon for visitors and revealing some of the sophisticated environmental systems required to maintain aquarium habitats. Visitors will approach the building by an entry ramp that visually connects them with views of Niagara River and Lake Ontario beyond. Inside, special features include exhibits on Greenland Coldwater Sharks, underwater shark tunnels, Seven Seas displays, exclusive exhibits on the Great Lakes and the fresh water tributaries of major rivers such as the St. Lawrence and Mississippi.