A zoo is a wonderful, educational place for kids — but it isn’t designed for them. The expansion of the Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo at the Birmingham Zoo was created for kids to enjoy wildlife the way only a child can. Kids can ride an exotic animal on the custom-built endangered species carousel, splash in the leaping fountain and brush sheep in the old-fashioned barn. Parents can take a break and watch their kids play from a seat under the covered arbor, and families can grab a meal at the cafe in the commons building to regain their energy for further exploration of the zoo.
Special occasions sometimes result in extremely specific deadlines. For the Hugh Kaul Children’s Zoo, the target date was a big one: the 50th anniversary celebration of the Birmingham Zoo. The Children’s Zoo was a massive, complex, multi-year undertaking — and planning and construction had to take place while the larger zoo was in use, without interrupting regular operations. To create a functioning children’s zoo in time for the celebration, HPM’s team surveyed the zoo’s needs and budget, engaged specialty design firms in the planning process and established a two-phase plan based around timing and budget availability. The first phase built out the commons area, including all-new plumbing for an interactive fountain, upgrades to the café and several segments of an exhibit featuring native wildlife. The second phase completed the five-section Alabama Wilds exhibit, from highlands to plains, just in time for the Birmingham Zoo’s golden anniversary.
The Birmingham Zoo
Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio