Vancouver Aquarium Expansion


Vancouver, BC

LEED Gold Certified

5,000 m2

$32 million

MCM Partnership

Ema Peter




Lighting Award:
Illuminating Engineering Society of North America 2015 Illumination Awards, Outdoor Lighting Design, Award of Merit


Case Study

The Vancouver Aquarium Expansion Project, the first of three planned phases, is the largest expansion and renovation in the history of the Aquarium, an organization with a rich history of conservation and education. Featuring modern and sustainable design to achieve LEED Certification, the multi-year project includes a new entrance pavilion, outdoor plaza, upgraded public walkways, increased green space and expanded exhibits, including BC Wild Coast and Canada’s Arctic. At the centre of this expanded space is the Teck Connections Gallery, the central hub of the new Aquarium. The gallery features 360-degree, 185-foot digital screens alive with stunning aquatic imagery. Added sustainability features include premium efficiency lighting and optimized lighting control, and a correct-sized electrical distribution. The intent of this project was to double the indoor exhibit space and increase the pools by approximately one third, as well as adding the necessary support space to facilitate such a large expansion. When AES started on the project, they had been confronted with an unanticipated cost to upgrade their electrical service to accommodate the expansion. The client needed a quick and cost-effective solution to allow the Aquarium to resume their project and proceed with the expansion. AES was able to combine their customer-focused design skills with their electrical systems knowledge to successfully implement an effective solution. AES designed a solution that required knowledge of the Aquarium’s core business practices and an understanding of the fact that power is only needed for cooling guests and fish for approximately six hours a day, six weeks out of the year. With that understanding, AES designed a system that automatically and transparently utilizes emergency generators during peak demand – saving the aquarium from an expensive upgrade to its high voltage power supply. This type of automated system had not been done by any of the local power equipment suppliers and extensive communication and coordination was required to attain agreement between all parties involved. The result was a highly sustainable expansion to one of Vancouver’s most iconic tourist attractions.