A New Visitor Amenity in a Historic Setting

Conservation Pavilion

Conservation Pavilion

Smithsonian Institution National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
Washington, DC

This context-sensitive new events center sets the standard for the next generation of public facilities at the National Zoo. With lower-level visitor amenities topped by a light-filled multipurpose space, the Conservation Pavilion is a welcoming new feature along the historic Olmsted Walk.

In harmony with the surrounding landscape, the structure is grounded at the base and airy above. Our design reinterprets the Zoo’s traditional palette of wood and stone, combining them with glass and steel to forge a precedent for future Zoo buildings. We married traditional detailing of natural materials with the latest building performance strategies. The result is an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly addition to the historic landscape.

A New Visitor Amenity in a Historic Setting
The design goes above and beyond the LEED Gold standard by including thoughtful and sustainable exterior environments.
A photo of a building at nighttime.

Protecting Wildlife

Millions of wild birds are killed each year when they collide with clear windows, which are difficult for them to see. We used fritted glass at the Conservation Pavilion to minimize the risk of bird strikes. The windows incorporate a pattern that looks subtle to humans but is obvious to birds.

A computer graphic showing what materials a building is made of.

Sustainable Design

In keeping with the Zoo’s conservation-oriented mission, we incorporated a number of strategies to minimize the building’s impact on the natural environment. These included specifying energy- and water-efficient fixtures and regional and recycled materials.

A exterior photo of the Conservation Pavilion with people walking.

Design Remix

The Conservation Pavilion brings a modern sensibility to the forms and materials of the Zoo’s WPA-era buildings. The upper level features large windows and lots of daylight. The lower level is embedded in a steep hillside.

A photo of visitors walking past a stone building.

An Olmsted Landscape

The National Zoo’s opened in 1891. Designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, its central circulation spine is a winding promenade now called the Olmsted Walk. The Conservation Pavilion is prominently located on the Walk near the Zoo’s southern entrance.

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