2015 Archtober Building of the Dat

2014 Interior Design Magazine Best of Year. Outdoor

2014 London International Creative Competition. Architectural Design

The Staten Island Zoo and the New York City Department of Design and Construction hired us to redesign the existing children’s zoo. For this redesign of the existing Children’s Zoo in Staten Island, we were charged with creating a new children’s farmstead including entry building, bookstore and education center, enclosure building for the new carousel, farm exhibits and a new outdoor leopard exhibit.  The area of the design scope was approximately 5 acres.  Our design strategy created new entry building and plaza to provide a welcoming public face for the zoo on Clove Road and marked the entry to the farmstead exhibit areas.  Currently the entry building and farm exhibits are on hold, but both the carousel enclosure and new outdoor leopard exhibit are completed.

The proposed entry building creates a public plaza that incorporates a landscaped amphitheater and a new duck pond. From the entry plaza a visitor has the option of going into the new farmstead or towards the main zoo structures and the new leopard exhibit. The circulation for the farmstead is structured to offer a variety of interconnecting paths allowing the visitor to create his/her own didactic experience.  In this way, the proposed farmstead is designed to engage in an immersive and individual way-creating some opportunities for self directed exploration. In addition to the farm animal exhibits where children can pet and feed farm animals, there are a series of farm related objects and buildings including barns, a tractor, a windmill, water features and a working garden.  The main structure within the farmstead is a teaching barn where children can enter a barn for a “behind the scenes” look at the interior of a barn—a unique offering for the typical urban child visiting.

The new carousel enclosure provides a transformable enclosure for a themed carousel ride.  A jewel like structure offering transparent views into the  carousel was the guiding vision for the new enclosure.  The enveloping glass façade is 50% operable for passive natural ventilation in the Summer beneath the shade of tree canopy and warmth and enclosure in the colder months.  During Winter, the transparent ETFE roof allows the full benefits of the sun’s rays through the bare trees to warm the enclosure.  Throughout the new area trees become an important feature in terms of aesthetics and visual quality of the zoo but also as a passive component of the building performance.

In the leopard enclosure, the goal of creating an immersive experience is delivered through careful scripting of views.  Through incorporating existing and newly introduced landscaping elements, including the characteristic trees, visitors view the leopards from different angles but are never in a situation where other visitors are apparent in the scene.  This required thoughtful exercise much like staging a dramatic production.