Lissoni Architettura’s NYC Aquatrium takes first place in New York City Waterfront Design competition

NYC Aquatrium was selected from among 178 proposals from 40 countries as the winner of Arch Out Loud’s NYC Aquarium & Public Waterfront design competition

May 24, 2016 |

Rendering Courtesy of Lissoni Architettura and Arch Out Loud

Typically, if you find yourself being submerged in New York’s East River, you probably aren’t having the best of days. But Italian architecture firm Lissoni Architettura, as part of a speculative design competition hosted by Arch Out Loud that sought innovative designs meant to transform New York City’s waterfronts, wanted to remove some of the stigma associated with the East River.

Lissoni Architettura’s concept, NYC Aquatrium, took first place in the Arch Out Loud competition and proposed the idea of building a partially submerged “island” or "shell" aquarium in Long Island City’s 11th street basin that would extend out into the East River, reports.

The design calls for two islands, connected by a surrounding boardwalk, that would exist in an excavated site turned into a water basin. The island that reaches farther out into the river would be the partially submerged aquarium and would include eight above ground biome domes housing marine life from around the world. Four of the domes would house sea life from the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Southern Oceans, while the remaining four would house life from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Tasman, and Red Seas. An iceberg at the center of the island would represent the North and South poles.

“The main idea is to generate an environment whereby visitors feel that they themselves are entering the water to discover the beauty of the marine life on display,” the firm wrote in its project proposal.

The second island would act as a green space during the day and retract to cover the partially submerged island at night, creating a shell not only to protect the arena and the biome domes within, but also to take on a “second life” as a planetarium.

The design is nothing more than a concept with no intention of actually being built, but if the idea of the Arch Out Loud contest was to spark the imagination of what could become of New York’s waterfronts in the future, this design certainly accomplished that goal.


Rendering Courtesy of Lissoni Architettura and Arch Out Loud


Rendering Courtesy of Lissoni Architettura and Arch Out Loud


Rendering Courtesy of Lissoni Architettura and Arch Out Loud

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