Newport, Oregon — The tides are turning at the Oregon Coast Aquarium; guests may notice hard hats and high-visibility vests juxtaposed with the sights of our scenic estuary. The changing landscape is a sure sign of what’s to come: crews have broken ground on the construction of a new Children’s Nature Play Area, Outdoor Amphitheater, Great Hall, and Headwaters Feature.
The construction, which is part of the first phase of the Aquarium’s multi-phase Capital Campaign for improvement, will be completed in spring 2022.
The Children’s Nature Play Area will speak to the Aquarium’s historic origins as a former timber mill site, highlighting the connection between Oregon’s nature and timber industry. Children will have the opportunity to clamber over massive logs, ascend a climbing tower, and explore a slide that acts as a mock river chute, allowing them to connect kinetically with nature. The surrounding grounds will include seating for caregivers, providing them with a scenic view of the estuary bordering the Aquarium.
The Outdoor Amphitheater will act as a dedicated space for educational programs and ambassador animal presentations. The amphitheater will feature expansive seating to accommodate large groups, ensuring all visitors have the opportunity to engage with Oregon-native species, animal caretakers, and educators.
The Great Hall construction will include the renovation of the existing Aquarium lobby and coffee bar and the addition of a moon jelly exhibit. The bank of windows lining the southwest end of the Great Hall will be replaced by doors, which will streamline foot traffic and provide visitors with a view of the estuary, Children’s Nature Play Area, and Headwaters Feature.
The Headwaters Feature will include a recirculating stream, representing the relationship between watersheds and the ocean, and the journey in between. It will educate and engage visitors on the importance of headwaters, which are the inland origins of streams and rivers that steadily make their way to the ocean. This feature will highlight waterways and the species they support, and the role they play in sustaining Oregon’s coastal communities.
The Aquarium has contracted Dangermond Keane Architecture, Andersen Construction, and Walker Macy to carry out the design, construction, and landscaping for this phase of the Capital Campaign.
Completion of Phase 1 is thanks to contributions from major donors, including Roundhouse Foundation, Starker Forests, Inc., Sunderland Foundation, Marcia H. Randall Foundation, Miller Family Holdings, Jeanette Bertea Hennings Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund.
“We are thrilled to begin the first phase of our projects that will enhance the visitor experience and update our facility,” says Carrie Lewis, President and CEO of the Aquarium. “This has been a long road – from five years of campaign fundraising to our 8-month facility closure in 2020 — but we’ve come through this with endless gratitude to our supporters and our community for believing in us and supporting our efforts to improve the Aquarium.”
To learn more about the Aquarium’s Capital Campaign and current progress, visit givetoaquarium.org.
About Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium creates unique and engaging experiences that connect you to the Oregon Coast and inspire ocean conservation. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.