Amplifying The National Aquarium’s geometric aesthetic, the iconic triangular glass facade that sits atop Baltimore’s Pier 3 building is planning a full renovation. The rooftop pyramid encloses the immersive Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, home to South American rain forest natives like the Linne’s two-toed sloth, Golden Lion Tamarin, and over 145 different species of plants. McLaren’s facade consulting team is supporting the complete glass and glazing revamp that will help ensure stabilization to this tropical environment for years to come.
Having provided structural and exhibit engineering services for the National Aquarium for over 20 years, McLaren is familiar with the uniqueness of working in a simulated natural habitat and around the precious animals and plants it houses. The glass facade of the Upland Tropical Rainforest not only encloses the exhibit, but also plays a contributing role in its ecosystem. As such, our facade consultants’ schematic designs were created with an understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the glass and the natural light penetrating the space.
The mission to create a sustainable, intuitive, and cost-effective glass facade design for the non-profit Aquarium began with McLaren conducting structural analysis. Crews examined the existing skylight or sloped glazing, truss systems, and structural components in relation to current functions, building codes, and the desired design visions of the Aquarium. Although Initial inspections found most to be in good condition, it did find minor damage to a number of horizontal mullions (the bars between the panes of glass). In addition to the structural glass inspection, the team performed an assessment and remediation design on the entire exhibit structure including the metal panels.
McLaren’s investigation found that the new glass and glazing system could be supported by the existing aluminum mullion framing. However, some remedial repairs would be required to preserve its structural integrity. It was determined, installation of new glass glazing could be performed from the exterior to minimize any impact to the interior habitat and animals during construction. This would also simplify the logistics of any interior scaffolding within the complicated geometry of the rainforest interior.
Over the years, the McLaren team has worked on various projects with The National Aquarium in Baltimore as the non-profit continues to find opportunities for sustainable growth and improve the visitor experience. Each project has served to reinforce the Aquarium’s commitment to conservation and education at every scale, including the Floating Wetland Prototype, Blacktip Reef Exhibit, the Animal Care and Rescue Center, and many more.