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Location: Cincinnati, OH
Construction Schedule: January 2017 – November 2017
Customer: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Architect and/or Engineer: Cornette-Violetta Architects
HGC Role: Construction Manager

 

The Gorilla World renovation was a multi-phased project, including a refresh of the existing Colobus Monkey habitat and the renovation of the existing Gorilla World exhibit into a state-of-the-art facility. The overall purpose of the Gorilla World renovation was to improve visitor engagement, increase the amount of play area for the gorillas, and enrich the animals in a more natural habitat.

Our work on the first phase of the new Gorilla World focused on their outdoor habitat. Modifications included increased land space, a more energy-efficient stream and waterfall, rolling hills, and an improved space for the colobus monkeys. The behind the scenes expansion includes modern living areas for the gorillas providing them with more spatial variety. The Colobus Monkey exhibit renovation improved aesthetics in exhibit and visitor engagement areas and improve the overall health for the monkeys. This was done through the renovation of existing holding cages, new rockwork, new prop logs and decorative concrete paths as well as new skylights to allow UV rays to pass through and improve health for the monkeys.

Visitors to the new ground-up indoor exhibit will pass under an artificial thatch shade structure to see gorillas through a 4-layer, full height glass viewing wall looking into an indoor exhibit with two rockwork trees, and a glass back wall that wraps up into a partial glass roof. The exhibit will maintain 90 degree, 80% humidity for gorilla comfort, and will be accessed through a hydraulic trap door from the holding below.

Phase 2, the indoor exhibit, is filled with naturalistic settings with plenty of daylight, large interactive spaces, and promotes healthy interaction among the gorilla families. It also gives zoo visitors the opportunity to view and engage with the gorillas year round. Visitors pass under an artificial thatch shade structure to see the gorillas through a 3 ½ inch thick floor to ceiling glass-viewing wall. The exhibit will maintain at 90 degrees, 80% humidity for gorilla comfort and is accessed through a hydraulic trap door from the holding below. Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo, says this is the most complex area ever built.

 

 

Interior zoological display. A large glass wall reveals a habitat for gorillas. A wide variety of artificial trees and fines are surrounded by a dirt and mulch ground mixture. The viewing area in the foreground has a cement floor made to simulate rock, and a ceiling of log beams.
Interior zoological display. A large glass wall reveals a habitat for gorillas. A wide variety of artificial trees and fines are surrounded by a dirt and mulch ground mixture. The viewing area in the foreground has a cement floor made to simulate rock, and a ceiling of log beams.
The entrance to the interior viewing area of a zoological habitat. The structure is made to look like a hexagonal hut, with large wooden beams providing framework and smaller sticks lined up to create the wall. The roof looks like hay thatching. A wall to the right is made of large wooden beams. There are lots of trees and shrubs framing the area.
The indoor viewing area of a zoological habit for gorillas. To the right are large glass walls looking into the gorilla habitat. The floor is cement made to simulate rocks. The left side features artificial boulders for sitting, and a wall made of thin, round wooden beams. The ceiling is made of large log beams as support and smaller logs creating a roof.
A zoological habitat. The landing for viewers has two levels, divided by wooden fencing, and covered by a wooden canopy covered in vines, currently leafless due to the season. Blue sky can be seen through the openings of the canopy. To the right of the image can be seen the backs of a group of zoo visitors. In the background the habitat is visible. It is for gorillas and features boulders, a large climbing tree with artificial vines, and some grassy areas. High cliffs make the back edge of the habitat.
The indoor section of a zoological habitat for gorillas. The habitat contains a wide variety of artificial trees and vines for climbing. The right side of the image shows warming lights to moderate temperature, and a tall sloping ceiling painted black. The left side of the ceiling and walls are glass, letting in an abundance of natural light.
A gorilla sits and looks out of the glass of his zoological habitat, gazing at a small child in a purple floral-patterned coat with the hood up.

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