The lights are coming on at the National Aquarium after a $7.75 million renovation to replace 684 glass panes in its Upland Tropic Rain Forest exhibit and illuminate its pyramid-shaped roof. Photo by Bill Pencek.

The lights are coming on at the National Aquarium after a $7.75 million renovation to replace 684 glass panes in its Upland Tropic Rain Forest exhibit and illuminate its pyramid-shaped roof.

Aquarium officials have scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Nov. 15 to mark completion of the roof repairs and reopening of the rain forest exhibit.

“Plans are that the exhibit will reopen either that day or the following Monday” as officials finalize arrangements, Aquarium vice president of communications Kim Lacomare said in an email message. “Regardless, we will have the ribbon-cutting with some government officials and donors on the 15th.”

The rooftop exhibit, an immersive recreation of a South American rain forest, has been closed for repairs for the past eight months. All of the replacement glass is “bird-friendly,” marked with a ‘frit’ pattern designed to prevent birds from flying into it.

More than 100 animals were moved off-site while the work was underway, and they’ve been moving back and getting re-acclimated in recent weeks. Aquarium president and CEO John Racanelli said last month that he was aiming to have the exhibit back open by Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, residents of The Towers at Harbor Court, Scarlett Place and parts of Federal Hill have gotten to see the results of adding LED lights to outline the roof’s shape, as engineers test the lights after dark.

The lights can be any color and can change as the aquarium sees fit. Harbor Court resident Bill Pencek captured the lights glowing blue last night, matching the blue wave graphic on the building’s snub-nose south end, where the ring tanks are.

“Although [the National Aquarium] had been going through a couple of months period of testing which included occasional rapid rotation through a series of colors, last night was different because the cobalty blue stayed on for several hours,” Pencek reports.

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

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