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Aquarium And Conservatory Essay

1296 words - 6 pages

The first time a person looks upon the visual piece on the outside of the Belle Isle Aquarium, even if that person does not speak English, they can easily deduce what is hidden within the interesting building. The outside shows koi fish, shells (a sign of welcome), Roman God of the sea (Neptune) as the keystone on the arch, and a cartouche displaying the seal of the city of Detroit. This is all done in Terra Cotta, interestingly enough. With this being the entrance, upon entering the building any person would know that they would soon meet aquatic creatures. The Conservatory is very architecturally different from the Aquarium, which is slightly humorous considering the two buildings were ...view middle of the document...

The floor was once a lovely marble, but has since regrettably been replaced with bath tile in that 1954 renovation (Mayell). A long time ago, spittoons were everywhere, dating the old building quite a bit. The cross-shaped floor plan allows the maximum amount of tanks while providing a sense of mystery to discover exhibits behind the “hidden” corners (Boardman). At the end of the aquarium was once a home to otters, however, they started to create too much of an odor so they had to be removed. There was once also a large shrunken pool under the dome that was home to an alligator and turtles.
At the time of its opening, the Aquarium was among the sixth largest in the world (Austin). High-tech equipment, for this time, was installed and permitted for the keeping of both seawater and fresh-water marine life and the observance of the correct water temperatures in the correct tanks. The water was recycled through the tanks because, according to marine preservationists, fish survive better in water they have already lived in (Austin). Originally, an 8,531-gallon center tank with a railing around it occupied the center of the building and was topped off with filtered water that snaked through 5 miles of piping.
The Conservatory is not only a Greenhouse, but also a Botanical garden, and has a dome of its own. At 85 feet high, its dome provides 100,600 cubic feet for large palm trees (Baross). Other plants include banana trees, orange trees, coffee and sugar cane trees, ferns and cacti. The vestibule in the front serves as the welcome area, and has two doors on each side of the desk; the original design is to enter the door on the left, and exit through the door on the right. The Palm room is inside the domed center and contains a variety of tropical trees and palms. The Tropical Room is located in the South Wing, and The Fernery and Cactus Rooms within the North Wing. These two rooms are lined in tufa rock and hold a variety of cacti and succulents, and the room itself is sunken to provide cooler conditions and more humidity for the plants. Finally, the Show Room is positioned in the East Wing, and the display changes many times throughout the year for it is used for the Conservatory's many flower shows and special events. The Conservatory was built on a 13 acre parcel (Baross).
The man who originally conceived the idea of the Aquarium was the son of a well-respected Detroit merchant family who lived on Woodward at Adelaide, named David E. Heineman (1865 - 1935). He successfully sponsored a bill in the Michigan State Legislature for $150,000 to build the Aquarium and Conservatory on Belle Isle in celebration of Detroit’s Bicentennial. Basically, he was the money for this operation, but needed a partner who could set the standards for the rest of the island with the design of these great buildings. Once...

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