The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., has been selected for the 2016 AIA Twenty-five Year Award. Designed by EHDD of San Francisco, and completed in 1984, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a light-filled ensemble of diverse spaces, unique among aquariums in its interweaving of indoors and out. Built over land and water, it embraces views of the bay, whose ecosystem it celebrates—one of the keys to its allure.
Recognizing architectural design of enduring significance, the Twenty-five Year Award is conferred on a building project that has stood the test of time by embodying architectural excellence for 25 to 35 years. Projects must demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards. The award will be presented to EHDD in May at the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts two million annual visitors and has been cited as inspiration for other aquariums across the U.S. and around the world. It has had global impact on issues of ocean health, education and conservation. Programs, such as the internationally respected Seafood Watch program and the foundation for the global sustainable seafood movement, have grown out of a tradition of innovation that stems from the aquarium’s inception.
Flexibility and adaptability are the great hallmarks of sustainability, and the aquarium’s construction is as sophisticated as its design. Monterey Bay Aquarium set new technical standards for aquariums, which still influence today, such as the flow-through seawater-based heat pump system, naturalistic exhibitions and corrosion protection. Most remarkable perhaps of all the technical achievements is that the aquarium’s flexible design has accommodated multiple changes over the years, which have built upon its original concept.
When EHDD was asked to design the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the client’s (David Packard of Hewlett-Packard and his wife, Lucile Packard) most important requirement was that the building last 50 years. Thirty-two years later, the aquarium is not only still standing; it enjoys enduring and widespread popularity and is equally cherished by tourists and locals alike.
The jury for the 2016 25 Year Award includes: Josiah Stevenson, FAIA (chair), Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects; José Alvarez, AIA, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, Brad Cloepfil, AIA, Allied Works Architecture Inc., Roberto de Leon, AIA, De Leon & Primer Architecture Workshop; Julie Eizenberg, FAIA, Koning Eizenberg Architecture Inc.; Julie Engh, Assoc. AIA, Highland Associates; Elizabeth Hallas, AIA, Anderson Hallas Architects, P.C.; Danielle Jones, AIAS Representative; Christian Zimmerman, Prospect Park Alliance.