St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations PC has been hired by the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission (GRC) to design the new Mississippi Aquarium, slated to open in summer 2018.
“PGAV Destinations PC has built some world-class stuff all over the world, literally, ” said GRC Chief Administrative Officer Dr. John Kelly. “We wanted someone, of course, who knew the theme park business, knew the aquarium industry. So they were chosen for their expertise.”
While the GRC continues to fundraise, the Aquarium currently maintains a budget of $40m and is slated to be developed on 10 acres between the Mississippi Sound and scenic Jones Park and downtown Gulfport, uniting City and Sound.
Based on budget and footprint, the new Aquarium will join similar, top US destinations such as the New England Aquarium and the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Early discussions with the team highlight the story of the “Brown to Blue Water Corridor, ” where the silt-laden waters of Mississippi’s rivers meet the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This interaction creates a rich and verdant ecosystem which incorporates 3, 540 miles of coastline, 33 major river systems, 207 estuaries, 29 marine mammal species, 49 shark species, and countless unique species of fish, birds, and reptiles. The team aims to create a wholly unique experience that explores these fascinating environments and how they impact the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Region.
“We’re honoured to be part of such an exciting project as part of the redevelopment of Gulfport, ” said Emily Howard, PGAV Destinations PC, Aquarium project lead. “We are excited to be designing this Aquarium attraction with Gulfport from the ground up so the goals and interests of the city and its residents can be incorporated from the very beginning. It’s also great to partner with Eley Guild Hardy Architects as the local architect, because of their deep knowledge of the local community, the people, and the region.”
As the world’s largest independent design firm, PGAV Destinations PC will be overseeing the master planning, conceptual design, and schematic design of the Aquarium and teaming with local architect EGH to execute the design. Construction is slated to begin in 2017 with an opening in summer 2018.
(Images kind courtesy PGAV: Main pic – The Georgia Aquarium. Above – Chimelong Ocean Kingdom)