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ICRI 2005 Project Award Winner
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Award of Merit: Special Projects Category

Structural Restoration of Florida's Gulfarium
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Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Submitted by Phoenix Coatings, Inc.

Florida's Gulfarium

Gulf Exhibition Corporation
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Project Engineer/

John R. Oglesby, PE
Pensacola, Florida

Repair Contractor
Phoenix Coatings, Inc.
Pensacola, Florida

Material Suppliers/

Sika Corporation
Lyndhurst, New Jersey

Florida’s Gulfarium is the oldest marine show aquarium in the world. Its ability to remain in operation came into question when, in late 2004, the Gulfarium requested an inspection for corrosion of the steel dolphin tank and the surrounding concrete structure. The steel tank was in desperate need of cleaning and a new coating system, and the concrete structure was found to be severely deteriorated. The Gulfarium’s location (directly on the Gulf of Mexico) was the reason for its structural deficiencies. The Gulf’s chloride-ion-infused water had infiltrated the concrete, attacking the steel.

The restoration contract required a substantial completion date of March 31, 2005, but the pregnancies of two of the performing dolphins necessitated completion by March 3, 2005. This presented a dilemma—structural repairs were essential, as was returning the dolphins to their main tank in time for tourist season. The restoration team collaborated to establish a plan to achieve restoration of the facility and meet the deadline.

To avoid further structural deficiencies, the concrete was recast using 5000 psi (34 MPa) concrete with a corrosion inhibiting admixture incorporated into the design mixture. Changes to the original design of the structure also included the addition of expansion joints, sealing systems, reinforcing steel, and decorative waterproof coatings. 

The dolphins were returned to their tank just in time, thanks to the hard work, quick thinking, and detailed planning of the project team. The contractor left the owner with a solid plan for completing the remainder of the restoration during the following “off season.” Everyone involved was satisfied with a quality restoration project.

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