Revolutionizing the National Aquarium: Unveiling the Spectacular Solarban® Glass Pyramid Enhancement

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Enhancing Baltimore’s Icon: Solarban® 60 Starphire® Glass Transforms the National Aquarium’s Glass Pyramid

For over four decades, the National Aquarium has graced Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as a captivating landmark. Since its inauguration in 1981, this aquatic marvel has enthralled visitors with its stunning Beluga whales, immersive rainforest exhibits, vibrant coral reefs, awe-inspiring shark tanks, and a 4D theater, taking them on a journey from the Amazon to the Atlantic.

A Ship-Shaped Wonder

Designed in the shape of a ship, the National Aquarium features an iconic glass pyramid that mimics the sails of a grand vessel. As the largest tourist attraction in the state, it welcomes an impressive 1.5 million visitors each year.

Redefining Efficiency and Sustainability

In pursuit of greater energy efficiency and the improvement of the Rainforest habitat beneath the glass pyramid, the National Aquarium embarked on a mission to replace its glazing. The choice was clear: Solarban® 60 Starphire® glass.

A Thoughtful Selection Process

Working meticulously within a sensitive marine environment, the design team left no stone unturned in selecting the ideal glazing solution. Seonhee Kim, AIA, NOMA, LEED® AP BD+C, WELL AP, EcoDistricts AP, Director of Sustainability and Principal at Design Collaborative, Baltimore, emphasized the pivotal role glazing played in achieving performance goals.

Meeting Precise Criteria

The Rainforest habitat imposed specific criteria, necessitating glazing that could support temperatures ranging from 75°F to 85°F, humidity levels between 50% and 87%, and light transmittance between 54% and 75%. Furthermore, performance criteria included UV-A & UV-B light transmittance for exhibit health and the PAR spectrum to encourage photosynthesis.

The Perfect Solution: Solarban® 60 Starphire® Glass

After careful evaluation of various options, including Solarban® 60 on Acuity™ glass and Sungate® 400 on Starphire® glass by Vitro Architectural Glass, Solarban® 60 Starphire® glass emerged as the superior choice. It successfully recreated the rainforest environment while meeting the Aquarium’s performance objectives.

Optimizing Comfort and Efficiency

Solarban® 60 Starphire® glass combines transparent low-iron glass with high-performance solar control low-e coating, resulting in a visible light transmittance (VLT) of 74% and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.41 in a standard 1-inch IGU. This not only enhances occupant comfort but also reduces HVAC costs and maximizes daylighting for the rainforest.

Prioritizing Safety and Wildlife Conservation

To ensure safety, ionoplast interlayers were employed for laminated glass on the sloped surface glazing, without compromising UV light transmission. Additionally, Walker Textures Opaque acid-etched glass on Starphire® glass was applied to mitigate bird collisions, aligning with the American Bird Conservancy design guidelines.

Championing Wildlife Welfare

Throughout the project, a primary challenge was safeguarding the health and well-being of the aquarium’s wildlife. Meticulous planning and animal relocation strategies ensured minimal stress reactions among the animals during and after construction.

Repurposing and Sustainability

In a commitment to sustainability, the old glass modules, totaling close to 46 tons, were repurposed and recycled for use in roadways and fiberglass insulation. This eco-conscious approach aligned perfectly with the Aquarium’s mission of conservation.

A Symbolic Re-Opening

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan lauded the replacement of the National Aquarium’s iconic glass pyramid during its re-opening, emphasizing the importance of preserving this immersive Rain Forest exhibit for generations to come.

A Beacon of Conservation and Education

The National Aquarium continues its mission of addressing pressing global aquatic habitat issues through its permanent and rotating exhibits, showcasing pioneering science, conservation efforts, and educational programs.

For more information on Solarban® 60 Starphire® glass and Vitro Glass’s comprehensive range of architectural glass solutions, please visit

Experience a New Era of Environmental Excellence with Solarban® 60 Starphire® Glass at the National Aquarium!

Source: Vitro Architectural Glass with additional information added by Apazone

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