Planning for the new Ocean Pavilion

Seattle Aquarium Expansion Planning And Outreach

Since 1977, the Seattle Aquarium has been a key institution on Seattle’s central waterfront, engaging and educating visitors about the wonders of sea life in the Salish Sea and our one world ocean. With the Aquarium’s 2010 transition from the City of Seattle’s Department of Parks and Recreation to nonprofit management and operation, it had the opportunity to create a new vision. It developed its Strategic Plan 2011–2030 to dramatically increase the reach of its mission: Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment. The strategic plan recognizes the need for facility investments and upgrades, as well as broadened education programs that reach diverse audiences in order to help the Aquarium influence a growing regional population and lessen adverse impacts on our marine environment.

The strategic plan identifies a number of key goals and objectives for meeting the Aquarium’s mission, many of which would be furthered through major capital improvements and facility expansion. In 2014, to meet the strategic plan goals, the Seattle Aquarium began work on a larger plan. The process began as an integral part of the waterfront redevelopment project, with the Aquarium working closely with the City of Seattle Office of the Waterfront and the Department of Parks and Recreation. The planned expansion includes the development of an Aquarium campus to include a new building, the Ocean Pavilion; a west-end renovation of Pier 59; a renovation and expansion of Pier 60; and seamless connections to a greatly improved public waterfront.

The planning process and development of the Ocean Pavilion included extensive outreach to stakeholders and members of the public interested in the Aquarium’s expansion planning.

The Seattle Aquarium has been committed to an open and transparent process around its expansion and welcomes community voices. Our monthly board meetings have always been open to the public and allow for public comment.

Illustrated map of the Seattle Aquarium campus including the future Ocean Pavilion building, pier 59, pier 60, and the Aquarium offices


Seattle Aquarium Expansion: Timeline

Phase One: Ocean Pavilion

December 2020–May 2021
Suquamish Tribe land blessing conducted at the site of the future Ocean Pavilion and site preparation begins: excavation; deep soil mixing; mechanical, electrical, plumbing rough in and mat slab; build east and north level one exterior walls (supports backfill for new Elliott connector being built by City).

Fall 2021–late spring 2022
Excavation; deep soil mixing; mechanical, electrical, plumbing. Continue construction of lowest levels of Ocean Pavilion foundation and elevated deck under Overlook Walk, City/main corridor contractor backfill against level one wall completed.

Summer 2022 (pending funding and City coordination and opening of the new Alaskan Way) 
Construct Ocean Pavilion shell, core and roof and construct main exhibit form and habitat structures. Install large habitat acrylic windows; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and animal life support systems.

Spring 2023 (pending funding and City coordination)
Construct interior Ocean Pavilion tenant improvements; exhibit habitats; complete exterior finish work including public areas. 

2024 (anticipated)
Ocean Pavilion opens to the public!


The site of the future Ocean Pavilion building being cleared by multiple large pieces of machinery with the Seattle Aquarium's current buildings and Elliot Bay in the background

Ocean Pavilion Public Engagement Timeline: 2014–2021

Phase Two: Revitalize Existing Aquarium

Future milestones: timing to be determined

  • Fully revitalize Pier 59 with a new west end that reveals stunning views of Puget Sound, expanding our Salish Sea education and conservation programs.
  • Transform Pier 60 into a living habitat for Puget Sound and Washington coast animals, shorebirds and fish.
  • Doubling of education classroom space.

Rendering of the Seattle Aquarium's future Pier 59 building project against the backdrop of the city of Seattle

Sharing Feedback

If you have questions regarding the Ocean Pavilion project of the Aquarium’s plan approved by the City Council please contact us at

Additional documents:

Final Environmental Impact Statement (November 2018)
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (August 2018)
Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Summary Report (June 2018)
Plan approved by City Council (August 2015)