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Shedd Aquarium Unveils $500M Vision

Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Valerio Dewalt Train
Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Valerio Dewalt Train
Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Valerio Dewalt Train
Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Thinc/Valerio Dewalt Train
Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Valerio Dewalt Train/Visualized Concepts
Photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium in collaboration with Valerio Dewalt Train/Visualized Concepts
CHICAGO, IL — Shedd Aquarium recently unveiled a new, comprehensive strategic vision aimed at ensuring a more equitable, sustainable, and thriving future for people and aquatic life. The multi-faceted Centennial Commitment is a transformational investment in Chicago communities and aquatic ecosystems around the world, requiring half a billion dollars and eight years to accomplish.

Ambitions within Shedd Aquarium’s Centennial Commitment center around three primary pillars — “For People, For Communities, For Aquatic Life” — and include:

  • Deeper community investments and partnerships
  • A modernized aquarium experience through the transformation and restoration of the historic galleries and new exhibits
  • New educational and experiential programs
  • Digital engagements
  • Advancements in animal care and welfare
  • Accelerated aquatic research and science
Aquarium Transformation and Restoration
With support from joint venture Chicago-based general contractor partners Pepper/BMI Construction LLC, architect Valerio Dewalt Train, exhibit design partner Thinc Design, project manager JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle), accessibility partner Institute for Human Centered Design, diversity, equity, and inclusion partner Trinal Inc., and more, the aquarium’s new Experience Master Plan aims to honor the historical integrity of the building’s architecture while augmenting spaces for the needs of guests and the over 25,000 animals that call Shedd home today.

The multi-year, four-phase construction project will begin in late 2022 and is expected to conclude in 2026 with new galleries, programs, and experiences opening each year on a rolling basis. A few of the project highlights include:

  • A Modernized Experience: More accessible, interactive, immersive, and science-rich galleries will bring guests closer to the animals.
  • A New Learning Commons: A new experiential hub, the Learning Commons, will unlock new ways to encourage and facilitate learning.
  • A Centralized Science Hub: Five existing scientific laboratories will merge into one central Science Hub spanning microbial ecology, conservation science, water quality and chemistry, genome studies, and pathology.
  • Greater Physical Accessibility: New circulation pathways will significantly reduce the number of transitions between areas of the aquarium, allowing guests to have multiple options regarding where they can start their journey, and making navigation easier and more efficient.
  • Activated Outdoor Spaces: The four acres of green space around the building offer possibilities to serve as a living classroom while extending the aquarium’s conservation efforts.

Shedd’s onsite transformation will create more than 2,000 jobs in Illinois and lead to more than $340 million in economic activity through its construction phases. After ribbon cutting, the aquarium’s estimated total economic impact will exceed $410 million annually.

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