‘Fishers of the deep’

By Victor F. Erwin

“We fish deep,” says Pastor Rickie Rush, who believes the 70-foot long, 75,000-gallon salt-water aquarium in the main entry of his church symbolizes the ministry focus of their new church facility. The Inspiring Body of Christ (IBOC), Dallas, TX, is organized around the principle that all of the members are “fishers of the deep,” seeking out and welcoming those might be otherwise considered out of place as “odd fish.”

This marine theme is reflected in the design of the 176,000-square-foot facility. When founded in 1990 the church seated 63 members and has grown to a congregation of more than 10,000 today.  GL Barron Company was chosen for their “can do” attitude when other design/build teams interviewed said the pastor’s aquarium vision was not feasible.  “We saw an extraordinary opportunity to offer unique solutions for IBOC and were honored to partner with Pastor Rush and his team,” says Greg Barron, founder and CEO of the Barron Companies.

Featured on Animal Planet
The task at hand was to identify and interview companies capable of producing an aquarium of this size — resulting in the choice of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) [ www.acrylicaquariums.com], based in Las Vegas, NV. The company has since signed with Animal Planet and is hosting a new series called “Tanked” highlighting some of the most impressive and outlandish aquariums in the nation.

The IBOC aquarium was featured on an episode, September 2, 2011, and was named number one in the “Top 5” most amazing aquariums ever built by ATM. “To be recognized in this way is exciting,” says Barron, “but that’s not our goal when we start projects such as this. Our goal is to create a special experience for the congregation, no matter how big or how small.” The aquarium was actually just part of a $40 million project which includes the entire 176,000-square-foot worship facility that is the cornerstone of the 36-acre IBOC campus.

The major visual components of the aquarium were the two specially designed and fabricated clear acrylic tunnels, and the face vision panel, a clear single piece acrylic wall 5” thick, 18’ tall and 70’ long. The lead-time for delivery of these three pieces was one year from the date of verification of onsite actual dimensions.

Fully stocked tank
By August 2009, the aquarium was complete and ready for stocking. The tank had been test filled and only a few minor leaks needed to be pressure injected.  With the salt water chemically balanced, on August 21, 2009 the tank was fully stocked and the IBOC habitat began.

More than 80 species of fish swim along both sides and overhead, valued at over $100,000. Today, IBOC has a full time marine biologist on staff and is constantly monitoring lie in the aquarium. It is currently the largest, privately owned salt-water aquarium in the country.

Victor F. Erwin is vice president of G.L. Barron Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX. [www.glbarron.com]


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