To thank the people of Georgia for their two decades of support, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has pledged up to $200 million through his Atlanta-based Marcus Foundation to build a 250,000-square foot aquarium in midtown Atlanta.
The nonprofit Georgia Aquarium is slated to be built on approximately 15.5 acres near Atlantic Station, a new development project in midtown. Jeffery Swanagan, the current executive director and CEO of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa has been tapped to direct the new aquarium. Swanagan, who spent ten years as deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, plans to work with colleges and universities to establish a marine research program at the Georgia Aquarium.
"The Georgia Aquarium will allow everyone to see something they otherwise may not get to experience — aquatic life and all its wonders," said Marcus. "People who may never travel to the coast will be able to come to Atlanta to learn the lessons of the sea. I am building the aquarium to be an educational tool for every school, teacher and parent, and to bring joy to everyone. It will be an aquarium of the 23rd century with no boundaries — the next definition of aquarium. It will be entrepreneurial like the Home Depot."