Giant Brazilian aquarium is a project of KC’s A. Zahner Co.

07/22/2014 10:21 AM

07/25/2014 10:38 AM

The third biggest aquarium on the planet is coming together in Kansas City at A. Zahner Co.

Zahner is building the exterior forms and surfaces for the elaborate ocean-based aquarium in Fortaleza, Brazil. The Acquario Ceara, carrying a pricetag of $130 million, is set to open in 2015.

Zahner’s fabrication shops are making the aluminum support frame and aluminum skin plates that cover it. These pieces will ship south and come together for the project.

The work in Kansas City will add about 20 jobs, said the company, which has about 200 employees in the area and in Texas.

A sample of the building pieces sits outside Zahner’s shop near Ninth Street and the Paseo. It’s a mock-up of one of the 23 legs that will support the aquarium. The mock-up stands about 16 feet tall, said Tony Birchler of Zahner. The real version will be twice as tall.

All the pieces have to fit tightly into standard shipping containers to keep costs down. The company uses an algorithm to decide how to pack it all.

“If it doesn’t fit into a container, it doesn’t ship,” Birchler said. “And we don’t want to ship air.”

Brazil is getting a second mock-up for local display.

Zahner is a Kansas City-based engineering firm and metal fabrication company. Its employees also created and installed the green copper sheathing on The Kansas City Star’s Press Pavilion on Oak Street and Truman Road.

Among Zahner’s other current projects are the surfaces for Australia’s embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, and exterior work on the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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