Page B1.1 . 16 January 2002                     
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    New England Aquarium IMAX

    by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    The new Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium presented more than a few construction challenges: Build a highly visible addition to a landmark iconic institution in the middle of downtown Boston's waterfront. Place 60-70 percent of the footprint over water. Create the infrastructure for state-of-the-art 3D theater technology on an extremely constrictive site. Protect neighboring residents from construction noise. Build it fast, on budget ($12.5 million). And, of course, build it well.

    The theater's opening on December 6, 2001 was the successful conclusion to meeting this very challenging design and construction program. This was the latest stage of the ambitious masterplan of the New England Aquarium (NEAq).

    Program and Design

    The 400-seat Simons IMAX Theatre, designed by E. Verner Johnson & Associates, is the latest in the line of giant-screen 3D theaters. In contrast to the older OMNI technology, which projects 2D film imagery onto the interior of a spherical surface for a 3D-like feeling, IMAX creates a more realistic three-dimensional effect using dual imagery technology. Movies are filmed with special cameras using two slightly separated lenses and viewed through special polarizing glasses.   >>>

     

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    ArchWeek Image

    The new Simons IMAX Theatre of Boston's New England Aquarium adds angular, alpine forms to the waterfront.
    Photo: Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    ArchWeek Image

    In the IMAX Theatre, seats are situated within a restrictive cone of sight lines. The inset illustration (top left) shows an example of IMAX 3D imagery.
    Photo: Evan H. Shu, FAIA

     

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