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National Aquarium still 'committed to a presence in D.C.'

The National Aquarium may have shuttered its D.C. location last month, but the nonprofit wants to continue its mission of conservation in the nation’s capital.

Though it lacks the funds to construct another facility just like the old one in the Department of Commerce building, the aquarium has hired a Chicago architect and a research firm to determine whether it can build an attraction in D.C. sometime in the future, the aquarium's Senior Vice President Eric Schwaab says.  

“Do we have the capital resources to turn around and build a new aquarium there? In the short term, the answer is no. But we’re committed to a presence in D.C.,” says Schwaab, who is also the aquarium's chief conservation officer, a position that the aquarium created recently as it seeks to emphasize its role in sustaining marine life. 

Whether that presence is an actual aquarium or more of an ocean conservation center will be determined after the companies that it hired, Studio Gangs Architects and Impacts Research & Development, prepare a report in the spring.

“The sets of questions we’re asking are ‘What kind of facility is most valuable? How does it fit into our mission? And how do we articulate a vision that is compelling enough to garner the resources to make it work?” Schwaab says. 

The aquarium closed its D.C. facility to make way for renovations in the Commerce building. About 1,700 animals were moved from the D.C. aquarium to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, including a giant Pacific octopus. 

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Eric Schwaab, National Aquarium 
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