St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

ArchKey Revitalizes Historic Building Into Dynamic Entertainment Space Completing Advanced AV Upgrades & Facility Modernization

This design-assist project in downtown St. Louis transformed the 125-year old historic Union Station from a shopping mall into a major public entertainment venue. The 1-million gallon, 2-story aquarium is home to more than 13,000 animals, 257 species, and 44 exhibits. Due to the short time frame and complexity of the project, the ArchKey team was called in to assist on this project for both electrical and technologies scopes.

Spanning 120,000 square feet, the renovation was tailored for a unique aquatic environment, requiring the installation of 17 independent life support systems to accommodate the animal species that live in each exhibit. Salt and freshwater circulation systems had to be created underground, overhead and in the wall of the exhibits.Using as-built drawings dating back to the 1800’s made existing condition assessments, work sequencing and planning essential. Not only was it necessary to preserve original columns, footings, foundation, underground piping and more, but historic construction restraints provided limited access to certain areas, sometimes allowing less than 2 ft. of space resulting in owner-requested scope changes throughout the 14-month schedule.


Scope of Work

Electrical work by our team encompassed exterior lighting for the aquarium, ETC lighting control systems, tank pump control systems, general lighting, emergency power and distribution. Because each aquatic environment required separate systems and piping to provide individualized water, air quality, oxygen levels, and temperature controls, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were significantly more complex and constituted a larger scope of work compared to most standard buildings. Due to the unique nature of this project, the use of water-resistant and non-corrosive materials was crucial, especially for electrical installation. ArchKey’s electrical team extensively utilized PVC coated MC cable and nonmetallic “smurf” tubing for fiber optic cabling for under-slab installation of the tanks and pump stations.

Another major component of this install relied on the successful integration of audio visual components, seamlessly blending nature and technology, to bring the immersive nature of the aquarium and exhibits to life.

ArchKey Technologies contributed to the immersive experience of the aquarium installing the technology systems, which involved AV cabling, voice/data for the train shed as well as interactive displays and touch tanks located throughout the freshwater river, salt marsh and deep sea exhibits. Every exhibit inside the aquarium includes an interactive touch screen with details on the different species. A scavenger hunt also operates on touch screen kiosks throughout the attraction.

One such interactive exhibit located at the onset of the aquarium, and part of the award-winning entrance designed by DE-ZYN, LHM & PGAV Destinations, is a 2.7mm 4K curved LED display. This immersive visual experience, covering the hall’s barrel vault ceiling, syncs sea life animation with music and is controllable by aquarium staff via a tablet.

Security solutions, including CCTV, access control, and fire alarm system were also implemented.

Key Stats:

  • 500 Jobs Created, Emphasizing Local Labor and Significant XBE Representation
  • 1-Million Gallons of Water Including 250,000 Gallon Shark Habitat
  • Approximately 3 Miles of Pipe Servicing Multiple Life Support Systems
  • 14,533,632 Pixel Canvas Serving as the Award-Winning Entrance Display

Anticipating 1 million visitors annually, the St. Louis Aquarium is set to be among America’s most high-tech and popular aquariums.

St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station