Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion


Seattle, Washington


Seattle Aquarium

Collaborators +

Exhibit Designer: Thinc

General Contractor: Turner Construction Company

Structural & Civil Engineering: Magnusson Klemencic Associates

MEP Engineering: PAE Consulting Engineers

Landscape Architecture: James Corner Field Operations

Lighting Design: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design

Project Size

50,000 square feet

Project Status

In Progress


Targeting LEED New Construction Gold


Architecture, Interior Design, Planning, Urban Design

The new Ocean Pavilion will be a unique facility, integrating a complex building program into Seattle’s dynamic urban context. The Alaskan Way viaduct, an elevated section of SR-99, historically severed the connections between downtown Seattle and the waterfront. The viaduct was demolished in 2019, providing space for the City of Seattle’s future Central Waterfront. The Ocean Pavilion will sit within this context at the terminus of the Central Waterfront’s landscaped pedestrian promenade and network of major civic open spaces. This unique site is fronted on the West by the edge of Elliott Bay, the working waterfront, and the expansive Puget Sound landscape beyond. The east edge of the building is fronted by Seattle’s dense, rapidly changing downtown, which sits on a bluff 63’ above the waterfront. The north side of the building is integrated with a pedestrian land bridge, which integrates with the Ocean Pavilion, lifting the landscape and public open space from the waterfront to the top of the bluff, while providing pedestrian linkages between Pike Place Market and downtown, with the waterfront and the Salish Sea.

To visibly honor and acknowledge the Aquarium’s location on Coast Salish land, the project team worked closely with local tribes and the Urban Native community to inform and shape the programming, design and cultural framework for the building, landscape, exhibits and public art. Engagement included hearing traditional stories from tribal elders, workshops with tribal youth, and regular design sessions with tribal representatives.


A series of public pathways provide vertical connections between multiple levels of public plazas, woven together by interpretive Native gardens and gathering spaces, uniting the activity of the waterfront with the heart of the city. The Pavilion’s west side gestures to the waterfront, with sweeping geometries and a series of views providing connection to the Puget Sound and Pacific Ocean beyond.

Selected Awards

2023 ARCHITECT Magazine, Progressive Architecture Award

2023 Concrete Innovation Awards, Innovative Project Award