As you can tell from some of my previous posts, I love visiting the news section of the Architizer website. They recently published a post titled "Safari Architecture: 7 Wild Zoos," but I have to say I was a little disappointed by their list! They featured zoos from around the world, but never really focused in on what wonders we have here in the United States; don't worry- I already did that research for you! Read on for the Ultimate List of Wild Architecture: The United States Zoo edition.
Obviously I chose to look right in my own backyard to start off this list! The Buffalo Zoo, pictured above, is actually the third oldest zoo in the United States and is considered the second largest tourist attraction in Western New York. Residing in the middle of an urban area, the Buffalo Zoo's design cleverly unites people and animals. One of the newest additions is the Rainforest exhibit, where the back wall "resembles a flat-topped mountain...complete with a live working waterfall." A bridge and balcony provide breathtaking views, completing this marvelous architectural attraction.
Next up, The Cleveland Metropark Zoo, which recently received LEED certification for their African Elephant Crossing exhibit. The LEED program is the nationally accepted standard for green buildings, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. I visited this zoo myself back in March, and although some areas were blocked off from the snowy weather I still had a great adventure exploring the twists and turns of this 183-acre zoo.
In 1874 the Philadelphia Zoo opened, and still only has its original 42 acres today. Last spring, the COO introduced a new design plan that created "a radically different experience by giving [the animals] this opportunity to travel and explore." Three trail types were constructed, as shown in the photo above, that allowed animals to wander and explore while being eye to eye with patrons. Definitely worth a visit in my opinion!
Last on my list is the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C., recently renovated by PJA Architects. An Asia Trail Elephant Exhibit covering three acres was updated; their website describes the project: "two large water holes for swimming were incorporated into the site topography and are maintained by a state of the art water treatment facility. The project incorporates green technologies throughout , is sensitive to the historic building and context, and greatly expands the space for animals and public viewing."
My short list certainly does not cover all the architecturally inspired zoo's that the U.S. has to offer, but I hope it sparked your interest and raised your awareness of what lies in your own backyard. Comment below and share what YOUR favorite zoo structures are (you may even inspire a future blog post!).