Mote Taps Willis Smith For SEA Project



While officials at Mote Marine Laboratory have searched nationally for top talent to design and oversee construction of a new aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park, officials selected a local construction firm to build the facility.

Dr. Michael Crosby announced at a press conference last week that Willis A Smith Construction will work with The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company on the project.

“This is a significant step in our journey to create Mote SEA and realize its economic and societal benefits for the southwest Florida region and the State of Florida,” Crosby says. “Our Trustees, staff, supporters and communities should be proud of all they’ve done to help us reach this point and excited that we will now be able to focus increasingly on the concrete details of creating this important and lasting cultural asset.”

Mote officials say Willis Smith’s long history building public, environmentally sustainable projects tipped the scales in the firm’s favor. John LaCivita, executive vice president of Willis Smith, says hiring a firm with a 47-year-history in the region will serve the project well.

"The new Mote Science Education Aquarium will become a landmark destination, not only for our local region, but also for the State of Florida, and it will be recognized worldwide once completed,” he says.

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, a Maryland-based firm with offices in 19 states including Florida, comes on board with an expertise in aquariums. Most notably, the firm has worked with the National Aquarium in Baltimore since 1981 to design and develop exhibits there.

LaCavita said Willis Smith officials were excited to partner with Whiting-Turner on the Mote project.

“We have teamed with the prestigious firm of The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., an industry leader in specialty entertainment construction and aquariums,” he says. “During the construction phase, this project will be an economic driver to all of Southwest Florida, and it will have tremendous, annual economic impact to both counties, once open. Our team is ready to get started.”

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