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 Puget Sound and our one world ocean. With the 2010 transition from the City of Seattle’s Department of Parks and Recreation to nonprofit management and operation, the Aquarium 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 precious 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 master 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 master plan expansion includes the development of a new exhibit building (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 master plan 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 the Ocean Pavilion expansion and welcomes community voices. Our monthly board meetings have always been open to the public and allow for public comment.

Ocean Pavilion Public Engagement Timeline

As part of our Master Plan process approved by the Seattle City Council and the environmental scoping review process for the Ocean Pavilion expansion the Seattle Aquarium has welcomed public input and has engaged the community.

  • April 1, 2014: Master Plan process begins with several planning sessions facilitated by the Office of the Waterfront that includes lead designers for the Aquarium and Seattle’s new waterfront.

  • June 19, 2014: Public hearing and review by the Seattle Design Commission of the Overlook Walk and Ocean Pavilion concepts at 30% design with opportunity for public comment.

  • March 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015: Aquarium team members conduct individual presentations to over 20 independent groups and organizations from the downtown and waterfront community, open space and park advocates, neighborhood groups and homeowner associations, Aquarium volunteers, and broad public interest groups. Groups include:
    • Downtown District Council
    • Downtown Seattle Association
    • Friends of Waterfront Seattle
    • Hillclimb Court Condominiums
    • Department of Neighborhoods (Landmarks Board Architectural Review Committee)
    • League of Women Voters
    • Pike Place Market PDA
    • Seattle Board of Park Commissioners
    • Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau
    • Seattle Design Commission Aquarium Subcommittee
    • Seattle Historic Waterfront Association
    • Seattle Parks Foundation
    • Trust for Public Land
    • Waterfront Landings Condominiums
    • Waterfront Merchants Association
    • Numerous condominium boards or homeowner groups

  • May 18, 2015: Initial briefing to the City Council Select Committee on the Waterfront with opportunity for public comment.

  • June 9, 2015: Draft Master Plan published on the Seattle Aquarium’s website for public review and comment.

  • June 16, 2015: City Council Waterfront Committee briefing on Master Plan with opportunity for public comment.

  • June 16, 2015: Seattle Aquarium hosts a Public Open House to receive feedback on the draft plan. Participants are encouraged to submit their comments on notecards or by email. More than 1,000 comments were logged in support of the Master Plan and planned Ocean Pavilion expansion.

  • July 13, 2015: A second public meeting is held to answer any questions about the Master Plan prior to its submission to the City Council for final review and consideration for approval.

  • August 3, 2015: Resolution is passed unanimously by the City Council to approve the Seattle Aquarium Society’s Master Plan allowing the advancement of the design of Aquarium land expansion and environmental review. (Res. # 31603)

  • October 8, 2015 to Present: Information regarding the Master Plan and Ocean Pavilion project is posted publicly on the Seattle Aquarium website for review and comment. This includes a summary of all public comments received during the Master Plan Open House and stakeholder outreach efforts.

  • October 30, 2015: Public hearing by the Select Budget Committee to review the SDOT Seattle Aquarium Expansion MOU Amendment ordinance with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. # 124900)

  • November 16, 2015: Select Budget Committee passes SDOT Seattle Aquarium Expansion MOU with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. # 124900)

  • July 21, 2016: Public hearing and review by the Seattle Design Commission on design updates to the Overlook Walk and Ocean Pavilion concepts with opportunity for public comment.

  • July 26, 2017: Seattle Aquarium provides an annual report for Human Services and Public Health Committee sharing information on Aquarium’s impact and design progress. (Inf. # 889)

  • September 21, 2017: Public hearing by the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries, and Waterfront Committee to review ordinance authorizing an amended MOU to advance the Ocean Pavilion through schematic design with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. #125422)

  • September 25, 2017: Full Council consideration and passage of ordinance authorizing amended MOU to advance the Ocean Pavilion through schematic design with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. #125422)

  • April 1, 2018: Scoping notifications are posted on the Seattle Aquarium webpage. Notification ads published in the Daily Journal of Commerce, a notice was published on the Washington State Department of Ecology SEPA register, and postcards are mailed to surrounding property owners and a variety of stakeholders including tribes, elected officials, local and state agencies, the Seattle Central Library, and partner groups and organizations on the waterfront.

  • April 19, 2018: Public hearing and review by the Seattle Design Commission of the Overlook Walk and Ocean Pavilion concept designs with opportunity for public comment.

  • May 1, 2018 to Present: Aquarium team members continue outreach to independent groups and organizations from the downtown and waterfront community, open space and park advocates, neighborhood groups and homeowner associations, Aquarium volunteers, and broad public interest groups. Groups include:
    • Downtown Seattle Association
    • Friends of Waterfront Seattle
    • Hillclimb Court Condominiums
    • League of Women Voters
    • King County Regional Policy Committee
    • King County Council
    • Pike Place Market PDA
    • Seattle Board of Park Commissioners
    • Seattle Historic Waterfront Association
    • Seattle Parks Foundation
    • Seattle Rotary
    • University Club
    • Waterfront Landings Condominiums
    • Waterfront Merchants Association
    • Numerous condominium boards or homeowner groups

  • May 7, 2018: Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Aquarium Society (SEAS) publish the initial Scoping Notice for the Ocean Pavilion Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

  • May 7 to May 28, 2018: Agencies, tribal governments, and members of the public are invited to comment during the initial scoping period.

  • May 24, 2018: A public scoping meeting is held, including a presentation introducing the proposed action, informational poster boards, and comment forms and boxes.

  • July 18, 2018: Public hearing by the Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee to review ordinance replacing previous MOUs; increasing maximum design funding to $4.7M for further design of the Ocean Pavilion; and setting forth conditions of future Project Development Agreement with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. #125630)

  • July 23, 2018: Full Council consideration and unanimous passage of ordinance replacing previous MOUs; increasing maximum design funding to $4.7M for further design of the Ocean Pavilion; and setting forth conditions of future Project Development Agreement with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. #125630)

  • August 9, 2018: Draft EIS notifications are posted onsite and on the Seattle Aquarium webpage. Notification ads are published in the Seattle Times and Daily Journal of Commerce, a notice is published on the Washington State Department of Ecology SEPA register, and postcards are mailed to surrounding property owners and a variety of stakeholders including tribes, elected officials, local and state agencies, the Seattle Central Library, partner groups and organizations on the waterfront and all interested parties who had signed up for information on the project.

  • August 30, 2018: A notice of availability for the published Draft EIS is issued.

  • August 30 to October 1, 2018: A public comment period is open.

  • September 27, 2018: A public hearing is held, including a presentation describing the Draft EIS process and results, informational poster boards, and comment forms and boxes to take public comment. SEAS, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and consultant staff are available to take comments and answer questions. A court reporter records public comments.

  • November 18, 2018: The final EIS is delivered to the public. All interested parties who had signed up during the Scoping and EIS process are notified.

  • February 2, 2019: Public open house takes place as part of Viaduct demolition activities.

  • December 4, 2019: Public hearing by the Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee to review ordinance authorizing a funding agreement and future construction agreement between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium Society for the Ocean Pavilion with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. # 126015)

  • December 9, 2019: Full Council consideration and unanimous passage of ordinance authorizing a funding agreement and future construction agreement between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium Society for the Ocean Pavilion with opportunity for public comment. (Ord. # 126015)

The proposed Ocean Pavilion represents a culmination of master planning efforts, starting in 2014, in coordination with the City of Seattle. The current concept is based on outreach to tribes, regulatory agencies and the affected community.

Sharing feedback

If you have questions regarding the Ocean Pavilion project of the Aquarium’s Master Plan approved by the City Council please contact us at expansion@seattleaquarium.org.

Additional documents:

The new Ocean Pavilion is part of a larger master plan, which includes improving the existing City-owned historic pier’s energy use and enhancing the facilities sustainability measures.