ABOVE: Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. Courtesy Mayor’s Office, City of Gulfport.
St. Louis, MO, USA (November 18, 2015) — 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 has executed world-class projects all over the world,” said Gulfport Chief Administrative Officer Dr. John Kelly. “We wanted a company with not only extensive theme-park experience, but one that is also knowledgeable about the aquarium industry. We chose PGAV for their expertise and record of success.”
While the GRC continues to fundraise, the Aquarium currently maintains a budget of $40 million and is slated to be developed on 10 acres bordered by the Mississippi Sound and scenic Jones Park and downtown Gulfport, uniting city and Sound. Based on budget and footprint, the new Aquarium will be on par with 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 confluence creates a rich and verdant ecosystem which comprises 3,540 miles of coastline, 33 major river systems, 207 estuaries, 29 marine mammal species, 49 shark species, and myriad unique species of fish, birds, and reptiles. The team is aiming to create a unique experience that explores these fascinating environments and how they impact the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Region.
“We’re honored to be part of the redevelopment of Gulfport,” said Emily Howard, Aquarium project lead at PGAV Destinations. “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 will oversee the master planning, conceptual design, and schematic design of the Aquarium. PGAV Destinations will team with local architect EGH to execute the design. Construction is slated to begin in 2017 with an opening in summer 2018.