Hoping to change the way we look at both the New York City waterfront and aquaria in general, Arch Out Loud held a design contest. After being flooded with entries by over 500 participants from 40 countries around the world, they named Italian firm Lissoni Architettura as the winning proposal.
Most distinctively, Lissoni and his team have placed eight giant bubbles—that is, transparent biomes—representing four oceans and four seas around a huge glacier structure symbolizing the poles. In other words, far from just a bunch of tanks with fishes in them, the plan really does encompass a world of water.
Although the space physically has multiple levels, so visitors feel as though they're entering the watery depths themselves, the entire area works on multiple levels as well. A retractable roof that's both protective and purposeful gives an even deeper sense of immersion, as it enables a planetarium by night.
This atrium (cleverly deemed the "Aquatrium") is surrounded on two sides by water, the East River and a manmade activity area that leads to a small circular island. Altogether, the themes of roundness and water play off each other nicely and create an entertainingly and ecologically inviting space.
Bonus: There seems to be plenty of sharks, at least in the renderings we've seen so far...