ATLANTA (October 18, 2006) – The Georgia Aquarium broke ground this month on a building improvement project, reinvesting more than $13 million in the facility. The Georgia Aquarium is currently a 550,000 square-foot facility; after improvements are made, the building will increase its space to more than 580,000 square feet. The project will improve the overall special events and guest experiences through an expansion of the Oceans Ballroom, extra pumps and filtration for the animals will be added and the Aquarium’s Asian small-clawed otters will receive a new home within the facility.

“Although we have not yet been open for a full calendar year, we are undertaking an extraordinary improvement project to benefit the animals, our members and special events guests in the Oceans Ballroom,” said Jeff Swanagan, Executive Director of the Georgia Aquarium.  “Atlanta has embraced us with open arms.  This improvement project has been made possible due to the overwhelming and continued support from the community.”

Swanagan explained that the improvements will be made with minimal disturbance to guests and animals, with many of the upgrades rolling out over the next few months.  They include:

- A 7,000+ square foot expansion to the ballroom’s pre-function space will create an elegant entrance from Ivan Allen Boulevard to the Oceans Ballroom.  Additionally, green rooms, coat checks and meeting/conference rooms will be expanded and upgraded.  (Renderings of the improved ballroom can be seen at

- Sixteen pumps, each pumping 2,000 gallons per minute, 16 sand filters (5’ by 14’) and three ozone contact towers (12’ x 17’) will be added to the Ocean Voyager exhibit.  The exhibit will expand from 6.2 million gallons to 6.33 million gallons.  Previously, all water in the exhibit was filtered every 90 minutes. The additional pumps, combined with the existing pumps, will filter the entire exhibit in just 58 minutes.  “This expansion has always been anticipated and is now necessary to accommodate the growing animal needs,” Swanagan noted.

- Guests will have overhead protection from sun and rain from the parking deck to a redesigned front gate.

- The Asian small-clawed otters will have an improved and redesigned home, more easily visible to children and people in wheelchairs.

- New family ADA restrooms and lactating stations will be added.

- The addition of 26,000 square feet of office and storage space behind the scenes will improve the working environment for Aquarium staff, volunteers and vendors.



The Georgia Aquarium opened in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 23, 2005, as the world’s largest aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is a $250 million gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium, which has welcomed more than three million visitors in nine months, is overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors’ experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. The Georgia Aquarium is committed to continually working to provide the best guest experience. It is the goal of the Georgia Aquarium to educate audiences of all ages, while promoting a fun and entertaining learning experience that inspires guests to appreciate the world’s aquatic biodiversity and to take conservation action.