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Location: Cincinnati, OH
Schedule: October 2011 – May 2012
Customer: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Architect: Cornette/Violetta Architects
LEED Gold Certified
ABC Excellence in Construction – Excellence Award
ENR Midwest Best Project of 2012 

Phase I of Cat Canyon included the renovation of the Night Hunters building. This project stripped the existing building to the walls and was renovated to not only enhance the exhibit experience, but also to welcome the addition of several animals. The most significant update was the HVAC system. The building received a completely revamped, energy efficient HVAC system which significantly decreases the odors from felines by taking forced air from the patron area through cat holding and out of the building. An energy recovery system helps take conditioned exhaust air and transfer the temperature to incoming air. Lighting was also modified to make the building darker to enhance the visitor experience, but also included new emergency lighting to ensure that the building is lit sufficiently in case of an emergency.

Phase II of the project, located near the Night Hunters building, houses two White Tigers, two Snow Leopards, and two Malayan Tigers. The exhibit includes a new handicap accessible walking path and features 18-foot-tall concrete retaining structures, underground animal holding areas and separate entry and exit locations to reduce visitor congestion. The White Tiger Exhibit includes a 20-foot-tall waterfall that pumps 500 gallons of water per minute into an eight-foot-diameter pool. The Malayan Tiger exhibit takes a different approach by viewing the cats through glass that is only an inch thick. The rock directly off the pool is heated, in order to bring the tigers close to the glass to fulfill the “face to face with a big cat” theme. The snow leopard exhibit has open-air viewing, as well as a glass viewing area. Snow leopards prefer to rest in elevated areas, so an elevated rock base was placed in front of the glass viewing location with air conditioning vents to lure the cold weather cats to the glass viewing.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cat Canyon
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cat Canyon
Cincinnati Zoo tiger exhibit
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cat Canyon
Cincinnati Zoo Night Hunters entrance

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