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Children’s Area at the Birmingham Zoo

Birmingham, Alabama

Balancing Budgets and Schedules to Bring Children and Animals Together

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.

Careful Scheduling to Give the Zoo a Kid-Friendly Birthday Present

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.

Project Details

  • $15 million
  • Multi-phase, multi-year expansion and renovation
  • Animal exhibits
  • 18-foot-high replica Red Mountain
  • Interactive fountain
  • Custom-built endangered species carousel
  • Cafe
  • ABC Excellence in Construction Merit Award


The Birmingham Zoo


Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio

HPM Services

  • Program management
  • Construction management