Placemaking Project

Aquarium Fixtures and Interpretive Graphics

Aquarium and Graphics

Center in the Square

Roanoke, Virginia

Center in the Square is a unique arts and cultural complex that houses five independent cultural organizations: Historical Society of Western Virginia, Harrison Museum of African American Culture, Science Museum of Western Virginia, Mill Mountain Theatre, and Opera Roanoke. Located in downtown Roanoke, Virginia, the Center draws over 400,000 visitors annually from across the nation and forty foreign countries, including approximately 20,000 school children. The Center recently re‐opened to the public after a two‐year, $27 million dollar renovation and expansion. For more information, visit

Among the new attractions are two spectacular aquarium displays on the lower level of the facility — a 5,500‐gallon living coral reef aquarium and three 500‐gallon seahorse and jellyfish sanctuaries. The 1717 Design Group was responsible for the design and engineering of the aquariums' exterior finishes and interpretive displays.

For the living reef aquarium, 1717 designed a highly‐crafted elliptical enclosure using textured acrylic panels mounted over a polished aluminum skin that together create an effervescent shimmer as visitors move around the aquarium. Nautical details like the high‐gloss mahogany yacht‐style railing and brackets were developed to discourage visitors from touching the fragile glass surfaces of the tank.

In addition to two traditional interpretative graphic panels, three large monitors feature looped video presentations and ten iPads offer an interactive experience where visitors can learn more about the 250 fish and 150 live corals in the aquarium.