Case Studies

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Developer: Ripley Entertainment Inc
Architects: B+H Architects

Opened in October of 2013, at a cost of $130 million, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is the largest facility of its kind in the country. Built on three-levels, this 12,500 m2 attraction is home to more than 15,000 aquatic animals, held in 50 tanks, containing nearly six million litres of water.
Aquarium Noise, Vibration and Acoustic Consulting
HGC Engineering was retained by Ripley’s through B+H Architects to provide comprehensive acoustical consulting for the proposed project starting in 2010. We first conducted a noise and vibration study whereby ground-borne perceptible vibrations and both ground-borne & airborne sound transmission of Union Station’s rail corridor traffic (located directly North of the planned site), were assessed. These measured noise and vibration levels were compared to relevant criteria, and were found to be sufficient for human use of the building. However Ripley’s animal husbandry department, (which strictly adheres to the standards for animal welfare regulated by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums)  had some concerns that these vibrations could pose a potential risk to the well being of the 450 different aquatic species housed in the aquaculture tanks; in particular acoustically sensitive sharks and “bony fish”. Noise and vibration can be detected by sharks in two ways; with their ears and through the use of their lateral lines.



Assessment of Noise and Vibration on Aquarium Sea-life
As a precaution, Ripley asked HGC Engineering to undertake a study that included investigating and identifying the threshold sound or vibration levels that might adversely affect these species in terms of their health, behaviour and reproductive capabilities. We first conducted a review of relevant scientific publications that helped us establish the likely thresholds on sharks and “bony fish” of characteristic locomotive sounds (low-frequency rumbles). We then performed additional calculations, based on this data, to estimate the amount of sound/vibration energy likely to be transmitted from nearby rail traffic, to the floors of the facility and into the water tanks for comparative purposes. As a result of our study and analysis, vibration isolation systems were designed and introduced below the tanks to limit any potential low frequency noise intrusions from train pass-bys.

Acoustical Engineering Services Delivered Included:

  • Building Acoustical Review (Sea Life Viewing Galleries, Discovery Centre, Lobby and Gift Shop, Classrooms, Offices)
  • Life Support and Building Services Noise and Vibration Control (HVAC Systems, Pumps, Compactors, Generators, etc)
  • Rail Induced Ground-Borne Noise and Vibration Assessment and Mitigation
  • Vibration Isolation of Aquarium Tanks

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