The National Aquarium announced Tuesday it will begin replacing the glass in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest to provide the best home possible for the Aquarium's resident birds and plants. The project will officially begin on March 3 and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2022.
Due to the natural aging process of glass, the National Aquarium has taken the proactive step to replace all 684 panes of glass of its iconic, pyramid-topped Upland Tropical Rain Forest – a fixture of the Baltimore skyline. The new glass will be energy efficient, have updated safety features and be esthetically pleasing. In accordance with the Aquarium's mission of conservation, the old glass will be upcycled and repurposed into materials used for major roadways and fiberglass insulation.
The new-and-improved glass will help control temperatures inside the exhibit from getting too warm, creating a pleasant experience for animals and guests. Additionally, the new glass will have permanent acid-etching to protect migrating birds from striking the glass. The new tempered glass will eliminate "hot-spots" on the plants below and create an ambient nighttime glow from the outside.
New to the design is the addition of LED lights along the borders of the pyramid, which will shine blue for the National Aquarium, as well as having the ability to light up purple for the Baltimore Ravens and orange for the Baltimore Orioles. The lights will not have a negative effect on the animals inside.
"The Upland Tropical Rain Forest is not only a guest favorite, it literally defines Baltimore's skyline. These improvements will ensure the integrity of our building while accelerating our multi-year initiative to be Maryland's most bird-friendly glass structure," said John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium.
During this transition, animals from the Upland Tropical Rain Forest will be taken care of in the back-of-house of the Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit and at the Aquarium's Animal Care and Rescue Center on Fayette Street.
"This critical improvement ensures the future of the glass pyramid for the next half-century. It would not have been possible without the generous support of the State of Maryland, our local governments, the corporate community and our philanthropic partners, all of whom recognized the importance of the National Aquarium to our community and stepped up to help make this a reality," Racanelli said.
The $8 million project includes a $7 million investment from the state of Maryland, as well as grants from the city of Baltimore, Baltimore County and the Abell Foundation.
"Our administration has been proud to commit $7 million to the replacement of the National Aquarium's iconic glass pyramid," said Governor Hogan. "The Rain Forest exhibit is unlike any other and this investment ensures generations of Marylanders will continue to be inspired by this immersive space."
The Upland Tropical Rain Forest will be closed to guests during construction with a planned reopening in the fall. As always, guests are sure to be awed by the many other exhibits and thousands of animals they can visit at the National Aquarium.