LONG BEACH : Waterfront Aquarium to Mimic 'Sea in Motion'

The city's proposed waterfront aquarium will feature a submerged see-through tunnel and other innovative ways to view creatures of the deep, according to preliminary plans unveiled recently.

Designers of the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific also have included a snorkeling area with coral, plants and fish; a tank where small marine mammals can play in machine-generated waves, and an educational film room.

Sketches released by the design team HOK/EHDD, a consortium of two firms, show a complex with rolling curves and a sweeping roof that will resemble "the sea in motion," said Robert J. Paternoster, project director. "The idea is to feel like you are part of the sea, not in a building or warehouse."

Primary exhibits will focus on three areas of the Pacific Ocean: the temperate waters of Southern California and Baja California, the cold Bering Sea and tropical Micronesia.

The 150,000-square-foot aquarium is expected to anchor the proposed Queensway Bay project, a waterfront attraction including shops, nightclubs and restaurants along Shoreline Drive that city officials hope will re-establish Long Beach as a tourist destination.

The city's Planning Commission is scheduled to make a decision on the designs in March. The plans would then go to the Coastal Commission in May. A bond sale to finance construction of the $100-million aquarium project is planned for July. Construction could begin in September with completion slated for spring, 1998.

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