Grand Junction company is world-renowned for manufacturing and installation capabilities
Grand Junction, CO, October 30, 2017– Reynolds Polymer Technology’s most recent project, a 35-foot-long, curved sheet of crystal clear acrylic weighing nearly 12 tons, will soon be a focal point in the new Pacific Seas Aquarium at Tacoma, Washington’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The over-arching window (or demi-tunnel) will stand at the heart of the new aquarium; officials say it will be the most visible, most visited, and most talked about piece of the new facility. “This glorious, large window into the world off the coast of Baja California will give our visitors amazing views of hammerhead sharks, spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles and other sea animals,” said John Houck, Deputy Director at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “We believe these animal ambassadors will inspire visitors to take action to help their species, which face increasing dangers from pollution, poaching and overfishing in the wild.”
Reynolds Polymer President Scott Sullivan says the project had some unique aspects including where it was being built and the unique geography of the area. “Reynolds Polymer took the challenge and worked with Turner Construction, one of the most respected aquarium contractors, to make a successful project.”
According to Sullivan, Turner Construction looked to Reynolds Polymer’s onsite expertise throughout the building of the aquarium; everything from concrete detailed drawings and panel protection to logistics and onsite installation. “The logistics started with how to get these large panels and the massive acrylic panel demi-tunnel to the jobsite safely,” says Sullivan. “Then our team had to really focus on how the panels would get into the building, since the aquarium was built on a hill with over a 45-degree grade causing the material handling and moving of the panels to be very difficult.”
The demi-tunnel’s unique design also presented several obstacles. “It was a huge challenge,” says Director of Sales Jeff Hanson. “The design was very intricate and included concrete work that required precise measurements and enormous accuracy. Computer modeling helped us determine how this large odd shaped piece was going to balance and tip into place.”
The site space was also extremely constrained so Reynolds Polymer crews had to continue to make incremental adjustments so that the window could be lowered, inch by inch, into its final position. “The 157-foot-tall construction crane had to do quite the dance to go up, over, down and in, and carefully lower the massive acrylic panel into place inside the new Pacific Seas Aquarium.”
But the installation didn’t stop there. Once the team got the window inside the building, they had to work to ensure the 6-inch-thick panel was correctly set into place to form one of the critical watertight sides of the huge exhibit. “Reynolds has an amazing reputation,” says Sarah Hamel, Project Manager with Metro Parks Tacoma. “They fit the bill exactly for what we wanted, which is a large window that provide our visitors with unparalleled views of the animals in our new Baja Bay exhibit.”
Preparations for filling the 250,000-gallon tank with water from Puget Sound began with fresh-water testing in early October. Aquarium staff members will study the water’s quality and pH balance for several months.
The new $51.6 million, 35,000-square-foot Pacific Seas aquarium will replace an aging building opened in 1963. “We were in desperate need of a new aquarium,” Houck said.. “In Spring of 2014, voters approved a $198 million bond issue. The largest project in that package was the aquarium. This is the largest single capitol project in the 112-year history of Metro Parks Tacoma.”
The animals will start being placed in the exhibits early next year and the aquarium is slated to open Summer 2018.