Leaders at the
National Aquarium in Baltimore
are weighing upgrades to its Inner Harbor building, moving its Fells Point animal rescue facility and changes to its dolphin exhibit that will enhance its conservation mission.
The aquarium has hired Studio Gangs Architects
and Impacts Research & Development LLC
to prepare a report by the spring that will lay out its strategic planning initiative, says Eric Schwaab, the aquarium’s chief conservation officer.
“A big part of the effort will involve significant outreach to other partners and stakeholders in the community,” Schwaab says.
In addition to its tourist attraction at the Inner Harbor, the aquarium operates an 11-acre property and former brownfields site located along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. It was set to become a $50 million development with classroom space and a new animal care facility, known as the Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation. Those plans stalled during the economic downturn as fundraising became a challenge. The report will help aquarium staff determine what is the best use of the site going forward.
The aquarium is considering moving its animal rescue facility in Fells Point to a more visible spot near its main Inner Harbor attraction.
“From a business perspective and logistically, we would love to move it closer" to the main building, Schwaab says. That would make it easier to move animals from the main building to the animal care facility.
Alternatively, it could move its animal care facility to its South Baltimore property, something it has considered in the past, Schwaab says.
The aquarium is also evaluating whether to enhance its Dolphin Discovery experience and upgrade the building that houses it. The current exhibit allows visitors to interact with dolphin trainers. “We’ve moved away from shows that are pure entertainment” to ones that focus on research and education, Schwaab says.
In August, the aquarium debuted its $12.5 million Blacktip Reef exhibit. It recently closed its D.C. location, but says it is still committed to having a presence
again someday in the nation’s capital.
Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Eric Schwaab, National Aquarium