Project Description

Palm Beach Zoo Entry Plaza

The new entry plaza was created to embody the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society’s values and conservation mission, and demonstrate to the visiting public how to build sustainably in South Florida. Sculpted walls, layers of vegetation, and a flowing aquatic water garden soften the edges of this new entry plaza to retain the intimate experience that is at the core of the Zoo’s identity. Over time the sculpted walls and water runnel will be partially covered in a blanket of climbing ficus, creating the feeling of something to be discovered emerging from the earth. The sculpted concrete created by the Studio for the entry walls and water garden is locally cast with 100% recycled concrete aggregate. From the first entry point of the Zoo, guests experience a new Florida Power and Light 100kW solar array shade structure covering a significant portion of the parking lot. The entry plaza itself is comprised of regionally manufactured permeable paving with recycled content; the plaza bollards are made from 100% recycled cast aluminum.

Green roofs on top of the ticket booths help keep the structures and surrounding area cooler and thus assist with energy efficiency as well as stormwater retention and filtration, and demonstrate a key strategy for urban wildlife habitat regeneration. The project also features reclaimed wood countertops, additional solar panels above the entry gates, a rainwater harvesting system, energy efficient lighting systems, and a mix of native and tropical plants (irrigated in-part by the harvested rainwater). The new entry plaza is also expanded for accessibility and to accommodate school groups and large events like the ‘Brew at the Zoo’. The entry gates were sculpted with plant and animal patterns veiled within the metal lattice. The new entry plaza provides the more than 340,000 guests that visit the Zoo each year with a perfect start to their experience; messaging the Zoo’s commitment to environmental education and wildlife conservation.

The Palm Beach Zoo Entry Plaza, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, was made possible through generous support of Ruth and Ted Baum, Howard and Michele Kessler, Sandra and Patrick Rooney, Sr., and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs. The AIA awarded this project an Award of Honor for Design Excellence in 2020.

Artist / Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Team: Jason Bregman, Jonathan Fogelson, John Gioello and FAP
Specialty Engineering: Brian Beaulieu at Colby Co Engineering
Architect of Record: Borrero Architecture, Alejandro Borrero and Jonathan Villaman
Landscape Architect: Carolyn Pendelton-Parker
Project Structural Engineer: MUE Engineering
Palm Beach Zoo Team: Andrew Aiken, President & CEO, Kathleen Breland, COO / CFO,
Dave Ruhl, Capital Projects Executive, and Jan Steele, Director, Wildlife Care and Conservation
General Contractor: Gast Construction Group Inc.
Photography: Singer Studio and Libertad Rodriguez

Palm Beach Zoo Entry Plaza