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What If a Submerged Aquarium Floated Between Manhattan and Queens?

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Can you picture a subsea-level aquarium off the Long Island City waterfront?

Talk about magical thinking: Design organization Arch Out Loud recently held one of its visionary competitions encouraging designers to propel the boundaries of architecture and come up with hypothetical solutions for the constantly changing world around us. The theme for their latest competition was NYC Aquarium and Public Waterfront open ideas.

The winner was NYCAquatrium, from Milan based firm Lissoni Architettura. Their design illustrates a double-decker basin in the East River with the lower level containing a submerged aquarium and the upper level functioning as a floating island by day and a planetarium by night. A waterfront park is depicted in the rendering, along with a beach and public space on one side of the aquarium.

Although just a hypothetical proposal, this is not the first time a submerged aquarium has been pitched. In 2015, a plan deemed the "Dry Line" from the Big U team won the Rebuild by Design competition for their proposal to strengthen lower Manhattan’s waterfront by adding protective elements like deployable walls during storms and resilient greenery but also creating way for space that can be utilized for communal and cultural activities, partially submerged aquarium included. The Big U was awarded $335 million to move forward with their proposal although there's no word on that partially submerged aquarium just yet.