Skanska USA has recently completed building one of the largest and most complex structures in Miami: The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. As a centerpiece of the Frost museum stands the 500,000-gallon, saltwater aquarium that is capable of supporting over 4 million pounds of sea water.

The building process required using a consistent concrete mixture to get the desired architectural and smooth finishes because it's visible from the exterior. Supermix supplied the concrete and the subcontractor, Baker Concrete, placed the 26,253 cubic yards of concrete.

The shape of this tank had never been built before. Complex in its conical shape, inclination and suspension, as well as a 30-foot diameter oculus at the bottom of the basin, the shape is energy-efficient and ideal for sharks as there are no sharp corners.

The 250,000-square-foot museum will serve as an economic engine and cultural anchor for Miami’s fast-growing urban core. Facing the Biscayne Bay waterfront, the museum is comprised of four buildings: The Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium, and the North and West Wings.

Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the 500,000-gallon saltwater aquarium holds deep-water fish from the nearby Gulfstream, including devil rays, tuna and mahi-mahi that swim among the sharks. The $305 million science museum is also comprised of a digital 250-seat planetarium and other interactive and innovative features, including cutting-edge science displays, a 9,000-square-foot laser show gallery, and exhibition galleries including one of a giant feathered dinosaur.

Building the 5-story museum presented some unique challenges for the design and construction team because the project had to be both highly aesthetic and functional. The Skanska team had to pay close attention to the way all the elements tied together, from the way the building looked to the way the windows lined up, because the museum structure is an exhibit itself as it sits in the heart of downtown Miami and serves as the centerpiece of Museum Park. The Gulfstream aquarium tank is also designed so museum visitors can walk under it and look into it - making it one-of-a-kind in the world.

Skanska’s goal was to build a facility that embraces the museum’s strong sustainability mission and was responsible for bringing the blueprint to life, making sure to execute the unique structural elements while also prioritizing energy and water efficiency. The museum will benefit from significant energy savings through demand control ventilation, efficient lighting, natural ventilation and white and green roofs. Onsite photovoltaic panels generate power for the building, helping to offset energy usage. A rain water and gray water collection system also represents significant water savings annually.