View of the hilltop as construstion was begun.

The Stephen Birch Aquarium

Overlooking La Jolla, CA.

Photographs and text by

Matthew Kiwala


All images are copyright 1996-2000 by Matthew Kiwala & Magic Ink.


The construction of the Stephen Birch Aquarium was very interesting. A new road had to be cut from North Torrey Pines Road over the hill, and almost back to the old Scripps Aquarium building. In fact, if you go to the tidepool exhibit, look over the railing, and a bit to the left, you will see the top of the old Aquarium. You will also notice the pier, which is where all the fresh seawater is drawn from for the aquarium.


The Blueprints!
The Blueprints! Walkway behind tanks #23 & 24 are just behind the blue prints. The wood forms for the kelp tank are at the top of the frame, to the left.
View looking Northwest. From tank #13 & 14, through two walls to the kelptank (On right) and tanks #20 & 22
Looking Northwest, you are looking through where tank #13 presently resides, towards the kelp tank (on right) and tanks #20, 21, &22.
Looking East over tanks #20 & 22 twards the front of the aquarium.
Looking East from the West wall. You are looking over the framework for tanks #20 & 22 towards the parking circle.
Making the kelp tank. The kelp tank form is being filled with cement.
The form for the kelp tank being filled with cement. It took several hours, as the form was so large, and all the air had to be forced out of the cement with a special tool.
View from the inside of tank #22 looking towards the kelp tank
View from the INSIDE of tank #22 looking towards the kelp tank.The lines are bowed due to the use of a fisheye for the photo.
The south patio.
The south patio before the concrete was poured.
The floor of the galleria being smoothed.
The floor in front of the kelp tank being smoothed.
The floor of the galleria being smoothed. The wire to the right is the seating for the kelp tank.
The floor of the galleria being smoothed. The rebar to the right is the future seating area for the kelp tank.
Overview of cement being poured for the kelp tank galleria
The floor again. The kelp tank is at the very top of the image, and the seating is the reebar above the workers in the image.


Kelp Tank


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Email: Matthew


All images and designs are 1996-2000 Matthew Kiwala & Magic Ink.