The Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq) has begun construction of a new Children’s Nature Play Area, Outdoor Amphitheater, Great Hall, and Headwaters Feature.

Construction

The Aquarium improvements will include a new children's play area.

The construction is part of the first phase of the Aquarium’s multi-phase capital campaign for improvement. Construction is to be completed in spring 2022.

"The current estimated cost for the Outdoor Amphitheater, Headwaters Feature, and Children’s Nature Play Area is $2M, of which we’ve raised $1.75M ($259K left to raise)," Oregon Coast Aquarium Communication and Marketing Specialist Courtney Klug said. "The Great Hall project includes the construction of the new admissions annex, which has already been completed, and will come to a total cost is $5.2M."

The Children’s Nature Play Area will highlight the connection between Oregon’s nature and timber industry. The play area will feature massive logs, a climbing tower, and a mock river chute, allowing children to engage kinetically with nature. The surrounding grounds will include seating for caregivers and an estuary viewing deck.

The Outdoor Amphitheater will act as a dedicated space for educational programs and ambassador animal presentations. The amphitheater will feature expansive seating to accommodate large groups.

The Great Hall construction will include the renovation of the existing Aquarium lobby and coffee bar and the addition of a moon jelly exhibit. The Great Hall will have a new doorway to streamline foot traffic and provide visitors with a view of the estuary, Children’s Nature Play Area, and Headwaters Feature.

The Headwaters Feature will include a recirculating stream, representing the relationship between watersheds and the ocean. This feature will emphasize the importance of headwaters and the role they play in sustaining Oregon’s coastal communities.

The Aquarium has contracted Dangermond Keane Architecture, Andersen Construction, and Walker Macy to carry out the design, construction, and landscaping for the current phase of the capital campaign.

Aquarium administrators said completion of phase 1 is made possible by contributions from major donors, including Roundhouse Foundation, Starker Forests, Inc., Sunderland Foundation, Marcia H. Randall Foundation, Miller Family Holdings, Jeanette Bertea Hennings Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, according to Aquarium administrators.

“We are thrilled to begin the first phase of our projects that will enhance the visitor experience and update our facility,” CEO of OCAq President and Carrie Lewis said. “This has been a long road –from five years of campaign fundraising to our 8-month facility closure in 2020 --but we’ve come through this with endless gratitude to our supporters and our community for believing in us and supporting our efforts to improve the Aquarium.” 

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is location at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Road in Newport.

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