The competition to design the new $275m Miami Science Museum has been won by London-based firm of Grimshaw Architects. The firm was chosen above designs from Steve Holl and 2004 Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid, who was a favourite to win.

“They looked like the Three Musketeers up there,” said Walter Revell, chairman of the eight-member selection panel, in an interview with the Miami Herald. Grimshaw Architects past projects include the Eden Project, a science centre in Cornwall, England that was built, in part, with recycled materials and whose signature feature is a series of bubble-like geometric domes.

Panellist Walid Wahab, a private contractor, said Hadid’s local connections and international profile would help the museum’s fundraising efforts. Museum benefactors must raise $100m of the $275m it will cost to build the museum. The remaining $175m will come from a bond approved by Miami-Dade voters in November 2004.

The museum will be built on four acres and will measure 200,000ft² – with 25,000ft² dedicated to the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the remainder for the Miami Science Museum. It is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The new science museum will boast an aquarium covering three floors, with mangroves and seagrass at the top, a tropical coral reef in the middle, and large sea creatures such as sharks and rays on the ground level. There is also a rooftop observatory, a 300-seat planetarium and a wildlife centre.