By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station in downtown St. Louis, on schedule to open in late 2019.
Part of an overall $187 million family entertainment complex, the massive project is being developed by Union Station owner Lodging Hospitality Management, designed by PGAV Destinations, built by McCarthy Building Companies and operated by zoOceanarium Group, the aquarium is creating 500 construction jobs. The St. Louis Aquarium Foundation will provide education, conservation and volunteer programs for visitors.
“The Shark Tank alone will hold 250,000 gallons of saltwater,” said Shawn Brinker, project manager for McCarthy. “Visitors will walk through a switchback tunnel designed with radiused, deep-water acrylic panels – some as large as 16 feet by 18 feet – that will enable them to get an up-close look at aquatic creatures for an exciting, virtual-immersive experience.”
Extensive demolition of what had been Union Station’s food court and mall to make way for the aquarium proved to be a steep challenge when work began November 2017. Brinker said working off as-built drawings dating back to the late 1800s made existing condition coordination, work sequencing and planning essential. “Subsurface conditions associated with the design and construction of three miles of piping systems also made the work extremely challenging,” he said, noting that complex piping up and above standard mechanical-electrical-plumbing infrastructure was necessary to support the more than 250 species of aquatic life. LSS (life support system) piping was a major portion of the work.
The aquarium is zoOceanarium’s first project located in the U.S.