We recently had the pleasure of helping the Grande Cheese Company bring their new headquarters to life with a new 8 foot aquarium. By working closely with their architect, we were able to execute their vision of making aquarium life the centerpiece of their conference space.
How It All Started
The Grande Cheese Company was in the process of building their new global headquarters in Wisconsin, with the hope of incorporating an aquarium element into the space. Their architect, based in San Antonio, was tasked with finding a partner who could bring their design to fruition. While he had sourced local Wisconsin vendors, none matched our depth of knowledge and experience in designing and installing large scale projects.
The Design Process & Client Needs
In this particular case, the design was very well thought out by the owner and the architect at the beginning of the project, so we had a very clear plans given to us, which always makes the installation much more streamlined.
The design plans showed a “Picture frame” style aquarium where the back and ends are black and one views only into the front panel. Large doors were planned above the tank for excellent access for maintenance. The tank was going to be a saltwater reef tank featuring live corals, invertebrates like shrimp, starfish and urchins, and a variety of fish. The drawings called for an aquarium of 120 x 30 x 36 inches.
The location of this aquarium would be an employee lounge/lunch room/coffee bar, with the aquarium being built into a wall with a very prominent view for everyone in the room. The room itself is extremely modern and has all the finest appliances.
We brought that down to a 96 inch length to save a little bit on costs. Acrylic (which is what most of our aquariums are made of) typically comes in 8 x 4 foot sheets. 10 foot sheets are available but the cost goes up significantly for that. Thus, the cost of a 10 foot tank jumps up significantly more than what an 8 foot would cost.
With the extra space next to the aquarium reduced, we had plenty of space for the equipment and filtration including a 160 gallon, conical bottom water storage tank which holds reverse osmosis/deionized water used for evaporation replenishment and water changes.
When we went to debrief the staff and train them on how to feed and generally care for the aquarium after it was installed, there was a gentleman there to do the same for their new coffee maker. The staff decided to get debriefed on how to use their coffee maker first, as they expected that to be shorter than learning about their new aquarium. Wrong! This coffee maker was the most complicated and elaborate piece of equipment we’ve ever seen. The entire dissertation they had to listen to took almost two hours, at which point we could get on with the aquarium instructions.
There were not a lot of worrisome issues with the layout of this tank. In fact, we had no issues, snags, or holdups. The biggest challenge was simply the location in Fond Du Lac. Being based in Chicago meant a 2.5 hours drive in either direction, which isn’t much of a challenge.
Everything went smoothly with this project, mostly to the excellent communication. The architect and construction company we worked with were excellent and all of us were very clear on the plan, which allowed it to be executed perfectly.
After the construction company and architect were gone and off the job, we have established an excellent rapport with the folks on staff. They even chose us to come out once a month for service on the aquarium, despite the distance. We have recently added monitoring equipment that will notify us via email if specific water quality parameters are out of line.
The Grande Cheese Company Aquarium is a beautiful and seamless project we are glad to be a part of!