How do you build a state-of-the-art home for the world’s largest collection of jellyfish, beneath an indoor amusement park and shopping mall? Just ask the team at Krech, O’Brien, Mueller and Associates. This spring they completed work on the Jellyfish Discovery exhibit at Merlin Entertainment’s Underwater Adventures Aquarium at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.
The exhibit features unique cylindrical tanks, LED lighting and mirrors to highlight the beauty of this exotic collection of jellyfish. KOMA coordinated the construction and life safety portion of the project, which was designed by U.K.-based Merlin Studios / Kay Elliott Architects and built by Construction Results.
“Since we had done all of the code review for the seahorse exhibit we were familiar with the space and the requirements,” says Iaria. “However, the jellyfish exhibit presented some challenges for exiting. The ‘jagged’ geometry of the space in combination with the floor-to-ceiling mirrors and low light levels created the illusion of an endless room of jellyfish tanks. Although the design intent was to alter the senses a bit when experiencing the jellies, we still had to make sure that the guests were not confused if an emergency situation arose.” Strategic locations for exit signs needed to be located so that they were not detracting from the visitor experience but still visible in the case of an emergency.
KOMA also worked with the design team to assist in locating the underslab process piping that had to be routed from the life support system (LSS) rooms to the underside of the tanks. “It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ was found running underneath the slab in the lowest level of MOA!” says Iaria.