Union Station

St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station Progresses Toward Construction Finish in Late 2019



What holds more than one million gallons of water, spans 120,000 square feet and promises to educate and fascinate all ages?

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.

McCarthy Building Companies makes a “splash” with video shot at new St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station


The construction workers from McMcCarthy Building Companies, Inc. who are busy building the new St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station took a fun, well-deserved break to reach out to all the “Baby Shark” song lovers in St. Louis and beyond. Here’s the link:


The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station will open in late 2019. The 120,000-square-foot aquarium will include one-of-a-kind exhibits and tanks featuring thousands of aquatic animals from the rivers and oceans of the world housed in 1.3 million gallons of water. It will bring together state-of-the-art technology, animal care, education and conservation with the excitement of aquatic creatures. The two-story aquarium — built inside the footprint of a nearly 500,000-square-foot, 19th century iron umbrella train shed that is designated as a National Historic Landmark — is a key piece of the $160 million family entertainment complex planned for Union Station by the station’s owner, St. Louis-based Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM).



McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., Awarded Project for St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station


Part of $160 Million Family Entertainment Complex Planned For National Historic Landmark St. Louis Union Station

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (www.mccarthy.com) broke ground today for a new  aquarium at St. Louis Union Station in downtown St. Louis.  The announcement was made by Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM), which owns Union Station.  St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations will be the designer.

The 120,000-square-foot St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station will be located in the former mall area and will feature one-of-a-kind exhibits and tanks with 1.3 million gallons of water housing thousands of aquatic animals from the rivers and oceans of the world.  Construction of the unique leisure and entertainment destination is expected to be completed in summer 2019.

During construction, the project will create 500 jobs and once operational, will bring more than 100 permanent jobs to the downtown St. Louis area.

“We’re very excited to have the nation’s top construction and design firms working with us on this project,” said Bob O’Loughlin, chairman and CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM). “The fact that both McCarthy and PGAV Destinations are based in St. Louis means that they appreciate the value of Union Station’s history and its importance to our community.”

McCarthy brings extensive experience in hospitality and entertainment construction, including the 200,000-square-foot OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Ariz., the largest aquarium in the Southwest, and expansion to the St. Louis Gateway Arch Visitor Center and Museum at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in downtown St. Louis.

“We want to thank LHM for their investment in our community.  Everyone at McCarthy and staff who will work on the project are all very excited,” said Ryan Freeman, Vice President of Operations at McCarthy.

“The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station is an important and challenging project for the region.  Building this aquarium, which is extremely complex construction, inside of the historic train shed is unique in its array of complexities.  Having been headquartered here for the past 100 years, we’ve been able to build some of the most challenging projects around the region and we’re pleased to be a part of adding this exciting new landmark,” said Freeman.

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station will be part of a $160 million family entertainment complex planned for St. Louis Union Station. Other components will include the previously announced St Louis Wheel. Wheel passengers will take three to four rotations high over the St. Louis skyline during the 10-to-12-minute ride. Located on the south side of the historic train shed.  The St. Louis Wheel will be a new iconic attraction on the St. Louis skyline and will be operational every day of the year, accommodating an estimated 500,000 visitors annually.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients.

The National Historic Landmark St. Louis Union Station at 1820 Market Street in downtown St. Louis opened to the public on September 1, 1894 and was owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis.  Designed by Theodore Link, it included three main areas: the Headhouse, the Midway and the 11.5-acre train shed. 

St. Louis Union Station is owned by Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM). The hotel has been named one of the world’s top railway themed hotels by Condé Nast. For information, visit www.stlouisunionstation.com/union-station-hotel/.