Final design of the planetarium at Miami Science Museum. Photo: Grimshaw Architects; Final design of the planetarium at Miami Science Museum. Photo: Grimshaw Architects;

Miami Science Museum, Miami, FL

Science and aquatics museum with innovative concrete tank design

Scheduled for completion in 2015, Miami’s new 180,000ft² Science and Aquarium Museum will be built in Bicentennial Park and will include a planetarium, 500,000-gallon natural seawater tank, wildlife exhibits and venue spaces.

Gulf Stream Tank

This enormous elliptical pool, 100ft in diameter, is filled with nearly 500,000 gallons of natural seawater. The aquatic journey continues as visitors descend to a subterranean viewing platform. There, an impressive 28ft-diameter window allows an underwater view of the tank’s inhabitants.

The conic-section design of the Gulf Stream tank is ambitious, but Arup’s innovative structural engineering solutions made it possible to implement the design.

Cast-in-place reinforced concrete, compressed with tensioned cables, will ensure a watertight structure. Seven columns positioned around the tank will provide the support necessary to carry the 2,000t of water.

Unlike structural steel, which interferes with a shark’s sensory system, the concrete shell will act as a damper between the sharks and the structure’s reinforcing steel.

The design is such that from this vantage point the viewer can experience the expansiveness of the ocean, since at no point can the sides of the tank be seen.

Living Core

One of the main attractions will be a sequence of aquarium and wildlife habitat exhibits called the Living Core. Visitors will be taken on an aquatic journey, exploring habitats as diverse as mangrove swamps, seagrass lagoons and a live coral reef.