The Culmination of 25+ Years of Innovations

"The Icon is massive and caters to the masses. Even so, I could carve out an experience that aligned with my preferences and travel style. The public spaces are large and airy, with views of the sea and sky, so I never felt claustrophobic."

The Washington Post

    Masterplanning, Architecture, Performance, Interior Design, Innovation

Our Icon of the Seas journey began in the fall of 2016 when Royal Caribbean’s New building and Innovation team asked WBA to master plan a new prototype for what would become the largest and most anticipated passenger ship ever built. With the largest capacity in their fleet and Royal Caribbean’s bold vision for unparalleled design and programming, Icon has truly fulfilled their mission to provide the “Best Family Vacation on the Planet”.


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During our master plan phase, we worked closely with Royal Caribbean’s Product and Operations Teams, to lay the foundation for creating a relaxing environment, where guests can intuitively navigate eight distinct neighborhoods, managing the plethora of enticing options to create a personalized family vacation.

From the location and size of the elevator cores, to the destination control, and escalators that distribute passengers efficiently from their arrival into the Royal Promenade, every decision was driven to help everyone navigate the ship with ease and achieve “seamless connectivity”.

With The Pearl, the super structure that makes possible the big opening on Deck 5, we created a much more open design and layout which results in far greater natural light and exposure to the sea. This landmark also creates an unrivaled arrival experience wowing passengers as they enter the Royal Promenade.


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Providing unsurpassed entertainment experiences where activity and thrills exceed all expectations, Icon has taken this wow factor to a new level with the unveiling of unique and audacious venues.

“Marquee shows: 10/10
…the three marquee productions — “The Wizard of Oz,” “Aqua Action!” and “Starburst: Elemental Beauty” — are fixtures. They are also phenomenal.

The Washington Post

Having set the stage with the Icon of the Seas master plan, WBA relished the opportunity to design many of the spaces and venues onboard that would go on to draw superlatives from both national and international press.

Absolute Zero –  This transformable 794-seat venue and the biggest ice arena in Royal Caribbean’s fleet boasts immersive projections and a retractable ice cover for multipurpose programing, including laser tag and a late night’s dance club. Its deliberate oval shape with Glice® entry ramps allow to gain amazing speed and execute triple jumps adding to the breathtaking show experience.

Royal Theater – A rich and glamorous 1,220-seat Broadway theater with a modern aesthetic and a four-section orchestra lift. Multiple stages flanked by full height LED digital screens break the bounds of the Proscenium immersing the audience in dazzling spectacle. The new cross aisle in the Royal Theater has the capacity to seat more than double the number of differently abled guests than any other theater in the fleet. This also allows them to have access to some of the best seats in the house while providing an unrivaled group experience.

The Aquadome – This immediately recognizable dome has become the signature venue for the ship. The colossal super structure spans the 57-meter width of the ship while enveloping the inner dome of the 700-seat AquaTheater. Branded as a new neighborhood, it is a “tranquil Oasis by day” with multiple bars, expansive lounging areas and panoramic views, restaurants, retail, and a waterfall, At night, it becomes a hot spot headlining an immersive Aqua show spectacular, complete with 17-meter freediving from ‘The Jewel,’ Fly by Foy rigging allowing for astonishing aerial acrobatics, 7 pool lifts, and choreographed robotics.

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Absolute Zero – The biggest ice arena in Royal Caribbean Group’s fleet was designed to feel like an expansive winter icescape down to the smallest details. Customized wall graphics give the sense that it is surrounded by falling snow while glowing crystal-like shapes flutter to create a delightful sense of rhythm and movement.

The Royal Theater – This venue includes the richness and glamor of a traditional Broadway theater, channeled through a contemporary aesthetic by replacing ornate detailing with rich and textural finishes. We also kept the palette neutral and added pops of warmth, rather than use rich and vibrant colors throughout.

Aquadome – Enter the shimmering AquaDome, perched at the top of the new Icon of the Seas, is a journey to the ocean, the feeling of water flows from a grotto framed by sea cliffs enticing a view of tide pools in sand dunes, beyond which lies the ocean through the largest unobstructed glass window at sea. At night all is transformed into an epic immersive performance by brave athletes pulling off superhuman stunts beneath a towering, shapeshifting waterfall and surrounded by animated projection.

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The Pearl and the Royal Promenade
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The Pearl -The instantly iconic feature, greeting guests upon arrival, is a blend of structural genius and sculpture, wowing passengers with a 53-ft-diameter kinetic art installation. This eye-catching feature doubles as a load-bearing superstructure supporting the nine decks above, allowing for the three-deck-high by 95-foot-wide panoramic window, filling the Royal Promenade with natural light.

Aquadome – The most recognizable exterior design element of Icon of the Seas at 17m tall, 57m wide sparkles like a jewel high atop the bow.  The dome entirely encompasses one of the eight neighborhoods that define the vacation experience. As the largest structure of steel and glass ever to be lifted onto a ship, the “outer dome” is completely self-supporting and consequently the space is pillar-free, leaving an unobstructed 220 degree vista of the ocean. Strategically defining a separation of venues within the neighborhood, the “inner dome” plays a multitude of roles. A semi-opaque, enveloping surface in the form of 189 kinetic projection panels acts as a moving, colorful backdrop to all the performances, while opening up to let the daylight stream in at other times. As a structure, the inner dome also supports the catwalks and 10m dive towers as well as accommodate all the technical equipment of the theatrical show. Topping off the theatrical venue, the outer dome reappears high above the inner, surreptitiously housing the 17 meter diving platform and animatable waterfall for epic reveals. On the ground level of the space, in the center of the dome, is one of the largest and deepest freshwater pools at sea, the surface of which camouflages 7 hydraulic lifts that enable athletes to dive into a deep pool that moments later a performer can seemingly walk across.


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As the Chief Architect and Master Planners from the inception, we used a wide array of tools to visualize our design solutions and engage dozens of decision makers. This included leading various in-person workshops in six different countries, the creation of multiple physical models, and the use of the latest 3D BIM software. WBA’s role involved the coordination and oversight of more than 15 consultants, engineers, and specialists within venues and across the ship.


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