The Patrica and Phillip Frost Museum of Science has installed its much-anticipated oculus lens — the viewing portal for the cone-shaped Gulf Stream Aquarium — in the downtown Miami facility. The 60,000-pound lens measures 31 feet across and 13.5 inches thick.
With its shipping cradle, the lens weighed a total of 80,000 pounds. A motorized platform similar to those used to move space shuttles was required to load the lens in Italy, where it was manufactured, onto a cargo ship for delivery to PortMiami, according to museum officials.
If the weight wasn’t enough, the installation was further complicated by the precise tilt of the aquarium opening, at 21 degrees. “We needed to make sure it was placed and sealed properly to allow future museum visitors to enjoy an optimum viewing experience,” said Andy Allen, Project Executive for Skanska USA Building, the museum’s contractor, via a statement.
The oculus must now be sealed with silicone to bond it to the tank’s fiber glass liner, a process that will likely take another three weeks, before it can be filled with seawater.
The long-delayed museum is on track for its revised opening date in the first quarter of 2017, according to officials.