Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘zoo’

BY JONATHAN LERNER

From the January issue of LAM:

The Treetop Trail gives small primates a radically different experience of zoo life. Credit: CLR Design/Arbuckle Industries.

The Treetop Trail gives small primates a radically different experience of zoo life. Credit: CLR Design/Arbuckle Industries.

A generation ago zoos were static, passive, and effectively two-dimensional. We were on one side of the window—or fence or moat—and the animals on the other. Depending on how naturalistic or pretty the exhibits happened to be, this formula was more or less dispiriting to both parties. Now a master plan being implemented at the Philadelphia Zoo upends all that; indeed, staffers there call it not a master plan but a “transformation plan.”

It revamps visitor circulation and amenities and addresses stormwater management. But its salient feature is a network of trails throughout the property, including elevated ones that snake through the trees. These let animals travel from the buildings where they live to outdoor exhibit spaces. Different species have access to sections of the trails and the places they lead sequentially, like a time-share. This design strategy, described as animal rotation and flex habitat, has been tried in small iterations at zoos in Atlanta; Louisville, Kentucky; Cleveland; and elsewhere. But Philadelphia’s is the first-ever campus-wide application—“a very big step,” says Jon Coe, FASLA, one of the designers. He explains that the approach rests on understanding that “an animal’s natural territory is not so much an area of land or water, but rather a network of trails connecting key resources.”

Philadelphia’s zoo—the country’s oldest, opened in 1874—has only its original 42 acres. Last spring, its children’s facility was relocated, leaving “a huge part of our usable area open for rethinking,” zoo Chief Operating Officer Andy Baker says. “What if that became a destination for animals that already live at the zoo rather than a new stand-alone exhibit?” An animal traditionally occupies a single location for years, but this “creates a radically different experience by giving them this opportunity to travel and explore.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »