Aquarium of the Pacific Wins 2 International Retail Design Awards

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The Aquarium of the Pacific’s newly redesigned Pacific Collection store has been awarded a 2014 A.R.E. design award in the category of sustainability and an award for the design of its kelp wall/façade. A.R. E. (the Association for Retail Environments) is an international 700-member, non-profit trade association advancing the retail environments industry. The award ceremony took place at the Four Seasons Las Vegas this week. 

Other A.R.E. award winners include Apple, Karl Lagerfeld Concept Store, Carlo Pazolini, Design Within Reach nationwide, Whole Foods Market, and RH Restoration Hardware. The Aquarium’s newly designed retail space officially opened in May 2013. The “green” building design, operation, and management of the Pacific Collections store has enabled the Aquarium of the Pacific to become the first among U.S. aquariums and zoos to receive a 3 Green Globes rating. The store’s sustainable features include several skylights for day lighting, high recycled content in the flooring, and eco-friendly, locally made souvenirs with sustainability messaging for visitors.

The Pacific Collections gift store spans more than 5,000 square feet and features a glass façade with a large-scale underwater image of a kelp forest off the coast of California’s Channel Islands. The design allows daylight to stream in through the kelp window, creating a sense of being immersed in the ocean. The Aquarium commissioned underwater photographer Jim Hellemn to create the kelp forest image. Hellemn’s photography has appeared in National Geographic magazine and in the American Museum of Natural History. He designs his own equipment and has developed techniques to photograph underwater scenes incrementally, often taking hundreds of photographs and months of work to make a single image. His life-sized image of Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands is the highest-resolution photograph of a coral reef ever captured.

Home to more than 11,000 animals, the Aquarium of the Pacific explores the waters of Southern California and Baja and the Northern and Tropical Pacific. For more information, call 562-590-3100 or visit

A.R.E. (the Association for Retail Environments) is a nonprofit trade association advancing the retail environments industry and member companies. For more information, visit

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