Construction of a new pavilion at the Seattle Aquarium looks set to go ahead after the city council approved a US$34m (€30.7m, £25.8m) contribution towards the project.
The US$113m (€102m, £85.8m) 50,000sq ft (15,240sq m) Ocean Pavilion development will see a 325,000-gallon martini glass-shaped tank built to house sharks, stingrays, and schooling and reef fish from the South Pacific's Coral Triangle area. Currently, around 850,000 people visit the aquarium every year, and it's hoped that the new pavilion would allow it to serve at least 1.2 million visitors annually.
Aquarium Society, which owns the attraction, is planning to raise US$60m (€54.2m, £45.5m) in private donations, with the remaining US$19m (€17.2m, £14.4m) to come from other public funds, according to The Seattle Times. The project will be part of a wider redevelopment of the Seattle waterfront that aims to triple the number of visitors to Seattle's downtown piers and increase attendance at the aquarium.
A key aspect of the redevelopment will be "Overlook Walk" – a park-like ramp that will connect the hillside Pike Place Market to the waterfront below, via Ocean Pavilion's rooftop.
Pedestrians walking along the promenade would be able to look up through a circle of glass into the new aquarium tank, while a similar glass portal on top would let in sunlight and give people on the roof of the pavilion a view into the tank.
Seattle firm LMN Architects have created the designs for Ocean Pavilion, with Turner Construction also appointed by the aquarium; Hoffman Construction has been engaged to build the US$100m (€90.3m, £75.9m) Overlook Walk.
Both projects are scheduled to start in 2021, with Ocean Pavilion expected to take two years to construct.
"The new waterfront is as significant as Central Park is in Manhattan," said Mark Reddington, partner with LMN Architects, who designed Ocean Pavilion. "It will be one of the biggest transformations in Seattle's history."