Sea lion exhibit: Pultrusions renew seaside aquatic show venue

When Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey and New York City coastline, Strongwell Corp. (Bristol, Va.) pultruded new bleachers and decking for the New York Aquarium's storm-ravaged Aqua Theater on Coney Island.
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When Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey and New York City coastline in the U.S., one of the many damaged areas was the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium. The Aquarium’s storm-ravaged Aqua Theater, which featured bleach-er seats and a wooden walkway, was redesigned and rebuilt to showcase the facility’s popular sea lions. Engineering firm Dunne & Markis Consulting (Riverdale, N.Y.) worked with Harrington Industrial Plastics (Chino, Calif.) to find a durable material that would stand up to corrosion, because the exhibit’s centerpiece is a pair of saltwater pools and it is located on Coney Island’s Atlantic shore in Brooklyn, N.Y. (The oceanfront is visible from the bleachers, see top photo). 

Harrington worked with pultruder Strongwell (Bristol, Va.) and selected Strongwell’s EXTREN pultruded fiberglass/polyester structural support profiles, including angles, plates and I-beams, to support its trademarked DURADEK pultruded I-6000 fiberglass/vinyl ester grating. These composite components were used to create new audience seating and standing areas as well as an irregular, decorative pool edge. The edging, mounted at different levels, provides platforms (lower photo) onto which sea lions can pull themselves from the water, and was designed to support their weight, which can range up to 500 lb/227 kg each. 

Aquarium officials are pleased with the remodel, which should provide many years of service. The project received a 2013 Merit Award from the publication Engineering News-Record (ENR) in the Sports/Entertainment category.


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