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Pacific Visions Construction Reaches Milestone

Penguin Signs Beam with Help From Aquarium Staff - popup
Assistant Curator Michele Sousa and Mammalogist Jimmy Chapman help Admiral Fancypants the Magellanic Penguin to "sign" the steel beam for the Pacific Visions topping-off ceremony. Aquarium of the Pacific

Pacific Visions

January 29, 2018

On January 30 the Aquarium celebrated the placement of the final steel beam in the structure for its new wing with a topping-off ceremony. The ceremony, a tradition among builders, marked a milestone in the construction of Pacific Visions, the Aquarium’s first major expansion. Pacific Visions will open to the public in spring 2019.

The Pacific Visions wing, designed by San Francisco-based architecture and design firm EHDD, will communicate the challenges our ocean faces and the opportunities it holds and imagine what the future of our planet could look like. This expansion will include a state-of-the-art interactive theater, a larger changing exhibit gallery with live animals, and an art gallery. When the Pacific Visions expansion is complete, the Aquarium will have the capacity to serve 2 million visitors annually. Pacific Visions construction is taking place on the Aquarium’s existing front lawn and will not impact the current guest experience.

Several traditions are associated with topping-off ceremonies, including having the last beam signed by people with important connections to the new building. The Aquarium’s beam was signed by staff members, Pacific Visions donors, representatives from general contractor Clark Construction, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and Admiral Fancypants, one of the Aquarium’s Magellanic penguins, who signed by walking across the beam with paint on his feet. It is also traditional to have a tree and a broom at a topping-off ceremony. The tree comes from the Nordic practice of making an offering to the forest gods, and the broom represents a clean sweep with no accidents.

Pacific Visions is supported by the City of Long Beach with a $15 million matching grant, a $5 million matching grant from John, Michelle, Mario, and Therese Molina, and $5 million from American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Private donations and commitments of $1 million or more have been generously given by James and Marilyn Simons, Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg, Don Temple Family Foundation, PREMIER/SMG and one anonymous donor. Donations and commitments of $100,000 or more have been generously given by the following corporations, foundations, and individual donors: Chip Conley; Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation; The Ahmanson Foundation; The Rose Hills Foundation; Don Knabe, Los Angeles County Supervisor, Fourth District; Confidence Foundation; The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; The Rudolph J. & Daphne A. Munzer Foundation; Esther S. M. Chui Chao; LGA Family Foundation; Pacific Life Foundation; California Resources Corporation; Edison International; The Boeing Company; W. M. Keck Foundation; Lakeside Foundation; Schulzman-Neri Foundation; Betty White Ludden; California Natural Resources Agency; The Hearst Foundations; Johnny Carson Foundation; Farmers & Merchants Bank; Bob and Jennifer Hagle; King’s Seafood Company; Tom Turney and Jill Boivin; Russ and Avalon Hill; the Quiksilver Foundation; Henry and Paulette Matson; Jerry and Margaret Schubel; Doug and Freda Otto; Mark Paullin; and two anonymous donors. Donations made by these funders, in addition to gifts made anonymously, total $47.4 million secured for the Pacific Visions campaign to date.

To learn more about Pacific Visions, visit