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Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – Gorilla World

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Construction Schedule: January 2017 – November 2017
Customer: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden [1]
Architect and/or Engineer: Cornette-Violetta Architects [2]
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.