Weatherford Democrat

Local News

September 1, 2011

Local builder’s project to be on national TV

WEATHERFORD — Residents can view the work of Aledo resident and prominent local builder Greg Barron on Animal Planet Friday in an episode of the new series, Tanked.

The show, which airs at 8 p.m., will feature a 75,000-gallon saltwater aquarium that Fort Worth based GL Barron included when the company designed and built Inspiring Body of Christ Church, a $40 million facility in South Dallas.

Church goers enter the building’s massive sanctuary through one of two tunnels in the 10-foot wide, 90-foot long slightly bowed aquarium wall, Barron said.

More than 80 species of fish swim along both sides and overhead.

The seamless Plexiglas tank is so large that it requires three full-time caretakers and is governed by state regulations, Barron said.

Two other tanks, shaped like cylinders, rise one-and-a-half stories by IBOC’s side entrances.  

GL Barron may not even be mentioned in “Tanked,” Barron said, which showcases the projects of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing of Las Vegas, the custom aquarium business selected by Barron for the IBOC project.

Wayde King and Brett Raymer, co-owners of ATM and hosts of the show, call the church tank “one of the most amazing over-the-top aquariums we’ve done” in video clips on the Animal Planet website.

GL Barron has worked on a variety of local projects Barron said, including Cutters Crossing, Crown Point, the future home of Texas Health Resources, and the I-20 off ramps in Willow Park at Ranch House Road.

The company specializes in Christian worship facilities, however.

A list of clients includes Parker County Cowboy Church, whose members wanted an arena; North Side Baptist Church, which required top flight acoustics; First Baptist Church of Aledo, First Baptist Church of Weatherford and New River Fellowship, for whom the firm recently drew up plans for expansion.

But the IBOC project, completed last November, has been the most unique, Barron said, and the first on a national stage.

“This project pushed every discipline,” he said. “This [aquarium] is what a zoo would have. We had to have incubation space, a place for sick fish, an area where food could be brought in. And there’s a whole operating system you don’t see ... pumps, filtration, a balancing system.

“A church is difficult enough. It has sloped floors, acoustic reverberation, sight lines, a distribution of light ... It took one-and-one-half years to fully engineer and design the project itself, then 16 months to construct it.”

One of Barron’s biggest challenges was designing the concrete systems to house the thick Plexiglas.

“They had to hold the Plexiglas and the pressure,” he said. “They had to fit snugly. Our tolerances were in the millimeters.”

Another big headache was designing the mechanical and electrical systems to control the quantity of air.

“You can’t hiccup when you have an aquarium,” he said. “You have to have a constant temperature. There’s $100,000 of fish in that tank.”

With IBOC, Barron believes his company has been effective in implementing the vision of Pastor Rickey Rush, who stresses evangelism.

The entry has a mural of the Dallas skyline, he said, and a picture of Jesus with his disciples.

The aquarium is so massive that “jaws are on the floor,” he said.

“Their mission statement is to be fishers of men,” he said. “They say they fish deep and don’t expect their fish to be clean when they [get to church].

“They want people to relate to the world as a part of a whole system. [At first], they might see themselves as a bottom feeder or a shark.

“This church is in South Dallas. The area is full of prostitutes, pimps, players ... and [Rush] goes after all of them.”

How much money a church should spend on a facility is a huge debate, Barron acknowledged.

“I told Pastor Rush, ‘If you can afford it, I can design it,’” he said. “I don’t pick and choose projects based on if I believe what they believe. If you have a vision, we have a company that can provide a solution. We will help you match your budget with your vision.”

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