Frederic Schwartz Architects


Chicago, Illinois

1999 AIA Chicago Interior Design Award

Shedd Aquarium Shop

The Shedd Aquarium promotes the enjoyment, appreciation, and effective conservation of aquatic life and its environment through education, research and public display. GO OVERBOARD objective was to enhance the Shedd Aquarium’s mission by helping guests learn about the natural world by selling aquatic-related goods and Shedd products in an exciting, fun and extraordinary retail experience that also teaches.

The aim of the design is to make visitors feel as though they are in the ocean, beneath the waves. The focus of the design is a giant scaled, super realistic, sculpted octopus and radiating from it is a series of freestanding merchandise units topped with larger-than-life fiberglass sea creatures. Suspended from the ceiling, the 1400-pound creature stretches 28 feet across and 10 feet high. Each of its eight 10-foot-long tentacles are wrapped around the building’s original circular foundation columns. The eyes are television screens that continually show eyes of various animals and humans The store is divided into five departments displaying merchandise themed to that particular area: Coral Reef, Rain Forest, Shedd Architecture, Kids and Books. The architectural envelope is contained with giant scale photo murals of close-up sea life including coral and starfish.

Evocative text, laser cut and applied to the frieze of walls was selected to define the different 3 department features a mural with an enlarged copy of a 1927 blueprint of the historical Shedd building. The “Coral Reef” department fixtures feature large abstract coral formations in overlapping eight foot high laser cut iridescent pink Lucite and giant scale photomurals of a Coral Reef.



Photo: Doug Snower Photography







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