Houston Zoo African Forest Phase 1

Houston, Texas

Design for this immersion-style exhibit was inspired by the forest landscapes of western equatorial Africa. It employs moats, glass walls, and concrete jungle embankments instead of bars or cages to allow closer interaction with rhinos, giraffes, and chimpanzees.

The plazas, walkways, and ramps that meander through the exhibit do much more than guide pedestrians. IDS designed paved areas to support the transport of heavy animals, convey stormwater run-off, and accommodate underground corridors for utilities running between buildings and water features. The gorilla exhibit’s moat serves double-duty as detention. IDS carefully configured the drainage system and developed a stormwater pollution prevention plan to prevent run-off from impacting water quality in animal exhibits as well as animal waste from discharging downstream. Unusual design aspects included specifying grates to be gorilla-proof and bolting systems to withstand the strength of an elephant’s trunk.