A world-class facility located in Corpus Christi, TX, the Texas State Aquarium has a very direct-to-the-point mission statement. Its goal is to “engage people with animals, inspire appreciation for our seas and support wildlife conservation.” Keeping in stride with that mindset, last May — after almost three years of waiting and an investment of $58 million — the Aquarium’s new 71,000-square-foot “Caribbean Journey” wing was finally unveiled, which incorporates a one-of-a-kind mosaic mural.

The custom-made, 1,000-square-foot, seascape-themed glass mosaic mural, which is positioned on a feature wall, has become the focal point of the new wing. “The mosaic project actually started after new construction of ‘Caribbean Journey’ had already begun,” explained Julie Hartunian, senior exhibit designer at Lyons/Zaremba, Inc., an internationally recognized firm that specializes in the planning and design of exhibits for aquariums and other public spaces. “We kept looking at this large, blank elevator wall and kept thinking, ‘What should we do with it?’”

Since Hartunian had previously met an employee from Artaic - Innovative Mosaic at an event in Boston, she felt the company’s customized mosaic productions using computer-driven robots were the perfect fit. “This wall in the Caribbean Journey wing leads visitors right into the exhibits,” the designer said. “Our vision was to have sea animals in the mural seemingly swimming right towards the main attractions. So, we created an underwater sea design that included many different species of sea creatures.

“Once our design was decided upon with our clients at Texas Aquarium, we collaborated with Artaic’s designers and began working with different sizes and colors of glass mosaic material,” she added.

The Aquarium was 27 years old when the new 71,000-square-foot addition began construction. Because there were already dozens of “old, traditional” mosaic wall designs throughout the old building, which still are quite visible, it made sense to craft another mosaic wall. “It tied everything together,” said Hartunian. “Because our company is based in Boston, we had the ideal opportunity to see firsthand, Artaic’s space-age robots in action while creating our project.”

An intensive installation

Zaremba/Lyons specified 1,007 square feet of 3/4-inch vitreous glass mosaic tile in 28 different vibrant colors for the project. To produce the mural, 270,540 tiles were placed using Bostik’s Dimension® RapidCure™ Grout. Consisting of 60% recycled glass material, “this product really made the design sparkle and pop, as if it were an actual photograph of the sea,” Hartunian said.

Without question, glass mosaics represent an ideal choice for any public aquarium project, given their non-porous and moisture-resistant nature. “Some projects just are ideal for us,” said Dr. Ted Acworth, CEO and founder of Artaic. “This one certainly was. It allowed us to transform the Zaremba/Lyons design into a brilliant glass mosaic iteration. More importantly, we believe it sets the standard for future public aquarium design worldwide.

“Whether it’s for shopping mall food courts, swimming pools, outdoor fountains or for an amazing new addition bringing the sights and sounds of the Yucatan Peninsula to the shores of South Texas, we’re glad to be part of the movement to bring back the art of mosaic design,” Acworth added.

The Caribbean Journey at Texas State Aquarium

Corpus Christi, TX

Exhibit Designer: Lyons/Zaremba Inc., Boston, MA
Tile Installer: Majek Tile and Marble Co., Inc., Corpus Christi, TX
Tile Supplier: Artaic - Innovative Mosaic, Boston, MA