The Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq) has started construction of a new children’s play area, outdoor amphitheater, large hall, and headland.

The upgrades will include a new children’s play area.

Construction is part of the first phase of the Aquarium’s multi-phase fundraising campaign for improvement. Construction is due for completion in the spring of 2022. The children’s play area will highlight the connection between nature and Oregon’s lumber industry. The playground will feature huge logs, a climbing tower, and a simulated riverfall, allowing children to kinetically engage with nature. The surrounding grounds will include caregiver seating and an estuary viewing platform.

The open-air amphitheater will serve as a space dedicated to educational programs and presentations of animal ambassadors. The amphitheater will have ample seating to accommodate large groups.

Construction of the Great Hall will include the renovation of the existing Aquarium lobby and cafe and the addition of a moon jelly exhibit. The great room will have a new door to streamline foot traffic and offer visitors a view of the estuary, children’s play area and spring.

The Headwaters element will include a recirculating stream, representing the relationship between watersheds and the ocean. This feature will emphasize the importance of headwaters and the role they play in sustaining Oregon’s coastal communities.

The Aquarium contracted Dangermond Keane Architecture, Andersen Construction and Walker Macy to design, build and landscap this phase of the fundraising campaign.

Completion of Phase 1 is due to contributions from major donors including Roundhouse Foundation, Starker Forests, Inc., Sunderland Foundation, Marcia H. Randall Foundation, Miller Family Holdings, Jeanette Bertea Hennings Foundation, MJ Murdock Charitable Trust and the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund.

“We are delighted to begin the first phase of our projects which will enhance the visitor experience and modernize our facilities,” said OCAq CEO and Carrie Lewis. “It’s been a long road – from five years of fundraising to the closure of our 8-month facility in 2020 – but we’ve gone through it with infinite gratitude to our supporters and our community for believing in us and supported our efforts to improve the Aquarium.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is located at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Road in Newport.