The National Aquarium’s iconic blue neon wave has been an enduring fixture on the city skyline since the building opened in 1981. However, that is going to change now. There is a plan to replace the existing glass panes in the building's pyramidal roof next year.
In addition to 684 new glass panes, the roof enclosure will also house new energy-efficient LED lighting that will beautifully emphasize the outline of the pyramid. The lights are going to be blue to match the blue wave on the south end of the 1981 building on Pier 3. However, their color might be changed to orange during the Orioles’ season and purple for Ravens during their matches.
The estimated cost for the overall project is $7.75 million, which includes $2 million allocated by Maryland's General Assembly, $450,000 from the city of Baltimore, and $100,000+ through the Abell Foundation and individual donations.
As per the aquarium representatives, the new wave will be of the same shape, size and color as the current 350-foot-long wave that has been Inner Harbor’s pride for over 29 years.
While the project has drawn some concerns from people, the aquarium's architect and first board chairman believe that the revamped wave will have just as strong and pleasing a visual effect as the current neon wave. In fact, the new wave might be even bluer than the original.
They also said that the reason for switching to LED is that the lights look like neon but use far less energy, and being energy-efficient is the aquarium's mission these days.
A similar LED lighting effect has already been implemented on the four glass pyramids at the Tennessee Aquarium, on which the Aquarium President and CEO John Racanelli opines — “It’s a nice effect. It’s subtle, but it draws the eye.”
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