Turner Tops Out Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

July 28, 2015

On July 2nd, 2015, leaders from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Turner Construction Company and the community gathered in Coney Island, NY to celebrate the “topping-out” of WCS New York Aquarium’s 57,000sf freestanding Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit.  Scheduled to open in 2017, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! has been a testament of that resilient New York spirit. In development for more than 10 years, the exhibit has overcome a myriad obstacles, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012. However, the creative vision and performance of the design and construction teams provided the inspiration and strength to bring the project to its current pivotal stage. 

“Today, we’re one step closer to creating a conservation, education, and economic powerhouse for Coney Island, and all of New York City,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium.

Positioned in the center of the Aquarium’s Coney Island campus, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! rises seamlessly from the famed boardwalk in sweeping curves, its spectacular design the product of a team headed by WCS’ Susan Chin, Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect, in collaboration with the Architect of Record Edelman, Sultan Knox Wood, and Seattle-based interdisciplinary architecture firm, The Portico Group.  

“Anyone can build a rectangular box. What WCS needed was an experienced team to execute this unique design,” stated Susan Chin.  “Turner and its expert subcontractors have been essential to the success of this complex project.”

 The structures’ seamless curvature is created from hundreds of cast-in-place concrete segments, utilizing specialty forms that were seamed together using more than 1,200 tons of rebar. Adding to the structure’s resiliency is Hycrete (W1000), a concrete admixture for waterproofing that reduces naturally occurring fissures and porosity. “Concrete, by its very nature is prone to cracking when it expands and contracts due to environmental factors,” said Jaime Panich, Turner Project Superintendent.  “Hycrete remedies this condition. It crystalizes when wet to expand and harden within the concrete sealing gaps up to .4mm.”

Complementing the fluid design, will be an impressive 1,100 foot long Shimmer Wall that will wrap along Ocean Wonders: Sharks!  oceanside façade.  Designed by visual artist Ned Khan, the Shimmer Wall is constructed of more than 33,000 4” x 5 ½” aluminum flappers that move individually with the wind to collectively evoke the imagery of sea life and ocean waves.  

The interior of the exhibit emphasizes the harmony of the structure with its oceanside environment in many unique features. Visitors will be immersed in an aquatic life experience as they walk through a coral reef via a 40 foot long acrylic tunnel offering immersive views of the surrounding sea life.  Ocean Wonders: Sharks!  will feature more than 100 local and global marine species as well as serve as home to 45 sharks in three vivaria totaling more than 500,000 gallons of water.

“This project is a unique opportunity to create something that will educate millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike about the wonders of the ocean and the delicate ecosystem we work to maintain,” said Dohlin.  “This is a special project for New York, Coney Island and the community, but there is still a long road ahead.”

In the months to come, Turner will continue to utilize its vast resources and know-how to translate the unique vision of the project’s designers and artists into the tangible reality of a marvel of modern architecture on Coney Island. In addition to the spectacular marine exhibit, the three story facility will offer a roof garden and observation deck, classroom and laboratory space in its mission to provide conservation, education and entertainment to visiting New Yorkers and tourists alike.

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