The Political Aquarium
EHDD is known for low-carbon footprint designs, several at UC campuses, and including the original (1998), more subdued Aquarium of the Pacific building. They aren't remotely at the Pelli or Zumthor level of renown. Accept that, and their new building overperforms. It is appealingly sculptural and fits well into its harborside setting. EHDD has managed to add 29,000 square feet of public space on a modest $53 million budget (a feat that has eluded some Pritzker Prize winners). With over 300 seats, the Aquarium's new theater is actually larger than the one that Zumthor is planning for LACMA.
That's laudable, given how many natural history museums still downplay global warming, presumably for fear of offending donors. Twenty-eight percent of the new wing's cost came from the city of Long Beach, which has its own vested interest. Much of the city will be underwater next century in the worst-case scenarios.
Unlike the Griffith Observatory, the Aquarium's theater is fitted out for a William Castle panoply of sensaround gimmicks: wind, fog, vibrating seats, and scents. The press preview demonstrated the vibrating seats. In concept they are similar to William Castle's "Percepto," used in the 1959 Vincent Price film The Tingler. I found the Long Beach implementation interesting for its subtlety. The vibrating was in synch with a loud soundtrack and didn't call attention to itself.
Maybe I should list technologies the Aquarium doesn't have: 3D and virtual reality (Disneyland opted out of the latter, too).