October 29, 2014
Rebuilding the New York Aquarium
- as seen by -Dennis Ethier
The rebuilding of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium is well under way.
In 2012, Superstorm Sandy took its toll on our wildlife park on the beach of Coney Island. I was on site during the events surrounding Sandy. The weeks that followed were filled with long days, spent in the grime and mud left behind by the storm. We lost our electrical infrastructure and, for three months, we had to use generators to supply our critical life support systems. It was an experience I will never forget. Seeing the park come back to life has helped me push that experience to the back of my mind, though.
The 57,000-square foot Ocean Wonders: Sharks! expansion is currently under construction. In this photograph, you can see the walls of the new seawater discharge plant. The underground filtration piping for the new coral reef tank (which will feature a walk-through acrylic tunnel,) is in the foreground.
The dewatering process is key to the construction. There are over 140 well points spread around the site, which go into the ground about 15 feet. These points are tied to a system that pumps out roughly 2,100 gallons of water per minute, so the crews are able to install the underground piping and foundations. Ground water is normally about two feet below grade under the boardwalk, and in the deepest excavation, we must go down close to 12 feet below grade. We will be dewatering the site around the clock through November. By then, we’ll have enough of the concrete superstructure built to keep the building from floating out of the ground.
On the personal side, it is particularly gratifying for me to see this project in full swing. I’ll take the lingering days – hot or cold – and the occasional all-nighter (like when we had to reroute a high voltage line) for the reward at the end: a world-class aquarium.