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Niagara aquarium selects construction manager for expansion project

The Aquarium of Niagara has selected Turner Construction Co. as project manager for New York’s $5-million Great Lakes 360 project announced in December. Construction is projected to be complete in spring 2024.

The project, described as a living museum, will augment the aquarium’s geographical footprint and establishes the organization as a campus in downtown Niagara Falls.

Construction management will include coordination of exhibit fabricators, contractors, interpretative specialists and animal care experts. Turner led the $3.8 million renovation of the ‘Penguin Coast’ exhibit in 2018 and has worked with several other aquariums, including the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the New England Aquarium in Boston, and the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn.

“The Aquarium of Niagara is a destination and one of the best places to visit in the Falls. Being a part of the Great Lakes 360 project team is thrilling for Turner and our employees,” said Turner Construction Co. VP and Business Manager Steven Perrigo. “We know and value the significant impact this project will have on education, conservation, research and recreation for both our community and visitors from outside the region.

“While all our projects are significant to us, the ones that provide direct benefits to our community hold a special place.”

Under an agreement with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Aquarium of Niagara will renovate the vacant Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. The 5,000-square-foot building is  500 feet southwest of the Aquarium’s main building, within the boundaries of the Niagara Falls State Park, and at the precipice of the Niagara Gorge.

“We are embarking on something extraordinarily significant for ecotourism in our region thanks to a fortified alliance with New York State Parks,” said president and CEO Gary Siddall. “Visitors will have the opportunity to feel the mist coming off the falls, take to the trails to explore unique areas of the Niagara Gorge, then come to Great Lakes 360 and really get to know the animals they may have just encountered outside through hands-on experiences and compelling interpretation.”

Great Lakes 360 will have 15 new exhibits, increasing the Aquarium of Niagara’s total number of exhibits by 40 per cent.

CPL Architecture and Tenji Aquarium Design + Build created “a truly immersive and inclusive experience that encourages guests to chart their own paths of discovery with opportunities for crawling, manipulating interpretive devices, and even enjoying tactile interaction with animals,” aquarium officials stated.

The Great Lakes 360 project builds upon a strategic commitment to rebranding the Aquarium inside and out, including more than $10 million in new exhibits and visitor amenities.

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