Connecticut architecture firm, Richard Turlington Architects was retained by Pelli Clarke Pelli to renovate the existing aquarium structure so it could be repurposed programmatically while retaining its original common spaces. The commercial space serving as an Aquarium and educational space in Mystic CT is situated near the Mystic River, a historic 300 year old seaport with its own museum and attractions.
The Aquarium’s origins were focused research and rehabilitation with the primary facility being completed in 1973. The majority of work was housed within 1 large building. At the end of the 1900’s, the Aquarium retained Pelli Clarke Pelli to design a large expansion for them. The design intent was to stretch the boundary of the site by introducing more buildings that radiate from by an intriguing sculptural steel pavilion. Each outbuilding is made of distinct shapes and bright colors. These buildings are set apart from each other, allowing water and exhibits to interweave and meander through the Aquarium’s exterior spaces. The result is an assembly of forms that evoke a permanent version of a circus tent, creating excitement among children as they approach the site from afar.
There were additional levels added, new Plexiglas curved walls added, new indirect lighting systems for new display and a new mechanical system added to handle the high humidity levels and eliminate bad smells. The entire building became one big interactive experience that required the building to be perforated in new locations, and new entry and exit spaces that had to orient itself to the new main pavilion