EHDD’s Monterey Bay Aquarium wins AIA Twenty-five Year Award

The aquarium set new technical standards for the building type, which still influence today, such as the flow-through seawater-based heat pump system, naturalistic exhibitions, and corrosion protection.

January 18, 2016 |
EHDD’s Monterey Bay Aquarium wins AIA Twenty-five Year Award

Photo: © Bruce Damonte

The Monterey Bay (Calif.) Aquarium has been selected to receive the 2016 AIA Twenty-five Year Award, an honor that recognizes an architectural design that has stood the test of time for at least a quarter-century.

The AIA Twenty-five Year Award is given to projects that demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards, according to AIA.

Designed by San Francisco-based EHDD Architecture, the structure incorporates views of the Monterey Bay, an ecosystem that is celebrated by the aquarium and has become one of its most alluring elements. Unfiltered seawater flows directly from the bay into some of the aquarium’s exhibit tanks, literally bringing the natural ecosystem indoors.


Photo: Steve Proehl


Many of the aquarium’s original technical aspects still influence similar buildings today, such as the flow-through seawater-based heat pump system, corrosion protection, and the aforementioned naturalistic exhibitions.

But the most enduring architectural aspect of the aquarium is how seamlessly it is integrated into Monterey Bay itself. The structure, and all of the two million visitors that pass through on an annual basis, become a part of the bay, witnessing creatures in habitats strikingly similar to the offshore habitats they would exist in otherwise.

Throughout the years, the flexible design of the Monterey Bay Aquarium has accommodated multiple changes that have built upon the original concept. Now, 32 years after its initial completion, the structure remains an impressive architectural feat and a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

The award will be presented to EHDD in May at the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia.

You can read more about the 2016 recipient of the AIA Twenty-five Year Award and view more pictures here.

The jury for the 2016 25 Year Award includes: Josiah Stevenson, FAIA (Chair), Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects; José Alvarez, AIA, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple; Brad Cloepfil, AIA, Allied Works Architecture, Inc.; Roberto de Leon, AIA, De Leon & Primer Architecture Workshop; Julie Eizenberg, FAIA, Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc.; Julie Engh, Assoc. AIA, Highland Associates; Elizabeth Hallas, AIA, Anderson Hallas Architects, P.C.; Danielle Jones, AIAS Representative; Christian Zimmerman, Prospect Park Alliance.


Photos: Bruce Damonte

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