A futuristic sunken design by architect Piero Lissoni recently took top honors in a speculative competition seeking ideas for a waterfront aquarium in Long Island City’s 11th Street Basin. Lissoni’s dynamic design depicts a partially submerged “island” aquarium that extends out into the East River, with a ramp leading visitors to its underwater exhibitions.



Piero Lissoni Aquarium
The competition, which was organized by Arch Out Loud, sought ideas for a waterfront aquarium for LIC’s 11th Street Basin. Lissoni’s design stood out to the jury thanks to the innovative idea of having visitors “submerged” underwater to experience the main part of the aquarium.

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“Having the water level define the starting point of the project, the site is excavated to become a spacious and innovative water basin,” said Lissoni’s team. “The main idea is to generate an environment whereby visitors feel that they themselves are entering the water to discover the beauty of the marine life on display.”

The design includes a long ramp that would lead visitors under the East River as they pass eight above-ground biome domes, which would hold marine life from the four oceans and the four seas. A large iceberg in the center of the island would represent the North and South poles.

The aquarium would be surrounded by a boardwalk, and a sloped beachfront space would offer stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. At closing time, a sliding grass roof would cover the circular island to transform it into a planetarium.

+ Piero Lissoni

Via Dezeen