SIP Zoo Aquarium Tacoma WA

Location: Tacoma, WA

Project Information

Project Type: Public Works
Manufacturer: Premier Building Systems
Builder: Turner Construction
Design Professional: EHDD, San Francisco-based & BCRA Design
Year Built: 2019


High Performance: No
HERS/EUI Index Score:
ACH50 - Blower Test Results:
CO2 lbs./sq.ft./year:

Climate controlled environments to support the large exhibit's habitats were required, which meant an efficient and stable indoor environment was required. The large tank exhibits also required huge spans of the roof to allow the massive tanks the space for the exhibits and habitats to function naturally.

The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) is a combined zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden located in Tacoma, Washington, US, owned by Metro Parks Tacoma. Situated on 29 acres (12 ha) in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park, the zoo and aquarium are home to over 9,000 specimens representing 367 animal species. The zoo was founded in 1905; the aquarium was founded in 1935 near Commencement Bay and relocated within the zoo in 1963. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Baja Bay, the 280,000-gallon show-stopper exhibit in the new Pacific Seas Aquarium, which opened to huge crowds and loud oohs and ahhs at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It’s just one of many habitats filled with sea creatures native to areas from the cold waters of Puget Sound to the subtropical climes of Baja California. 

In one tank, a giant Pacific octopus clings to the rocks or glass. In the 100,000-gallon Northwest Waters habitat, complete with barnacle-encrusted pilings and more than 400 brightly colored sea anemones, is home to animals that live in the zoo’s very own backyard – Puget Sound. A 10 feet overhead tank features an unusual semi-tunnel that puts you right in the action. This is where sharks cruise overhead and spotted eagle rays glide by. Colorful subtropical bony fish, such as the bright reddish-orange big scale soldierfish, flit about in schools in these warmer waters. Lastly, the Tidal Touch Zone exhibit beckons. It is a place where guests connect intimately with the ocean, actually feeling the spikiness of sea urchins, the hardness of small crabs’ shells, the soft squishiness of sea cucumbers and the astonishing variety of surfaces among different species of sea stars.


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