Dean Fritz Steiner and fellow team members Rob Holmes, Laurel McSherry, and David Bayer have placed third in the NYC Aquarium and Public Waterfront International Open Ideas Competition hosted by arch out loud. For the competition, designers were tasked with creating an intertwined public aquarium and park for the borough of Queens and the surrounding city, that would: investigate new programmatic interpretations of an aquarium; create useful public space; create a dialogue between the program and the urban context; utilize the site's waterfront location; provide opportunity for education on sustainable marine practices; and create a cultural destination for the community and city.
Dean Steiner and his team's proposal, Merroir, envisions the twenty-first-century aquarium as a node within larger hydrological and ecological networks, an aquarium that is not a collection of animals behind glass but rather a series of experiences and encounters with an estuary as a dynamic living system. The aquarium site is at the center of a set of thirty diving bells distributed across the metropolitan region. Three distinct bell networks offer varied experiences for visitors to engage different, dynamic ecologies: mobile bells based on aquatic habitats, cadastral bells based on the built environment, and datum bells based on bathymetry and sea-level rise.