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Lincoln Park Zoo plans new $9 million visitor centre

Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois has unveiled plans to replace its Gateway Pavilion with a bright airy two-building centre.

The Gateway Pavilion has welcomed visitors at the zoo’s East Gate since 1994.  However now the circular entrance is set to be replaced.

“At the time, it was a huge improvement,” says Steven Thompson, Vice President of Capital and Programmatic Planning at Lincoln Park Zoo.

“However the entrance was too dark and congested as a first port of call.  It was also ill-suited for its tasks” said Thompson.

The pavilion houses the information desk and member services; pushchair, wagon and wheelchair rental; lost-and-found and a first-aid station.

Lincoln Park Zoo monkeyHe explained that the new visitor centre, in contrast, will be airy and welcoming, with large glass windows. The East Gate will be spanned by two buildings: an overhead canopy will offer shade. The building to the south will be the smaller of the pair and will house restrooms.  The majority of visitors use the East Gate so restrooms are used either when they arrive or depart for the parking between the zoo and the Lincoln Park lagoon.

Lincoln Park Zoo gorillaThe larger building to the North will be U-shaped.  As visitors come in, the main information desk will be the first thing they see.  The building will also contain offices for security, first aid, and member services.  A recessed area will also provide a pleasant shady spot for visitors to meet up and relax.

The designs are still awaiting approval by the city’s planning commission.  Thompson says they expect the project to take about ten months to build, once permits are granted. Ground breaking is set to take place at the end of this year.  Completion is expected in 2018.

Lincoln Park Zoo is a free-admission zoo.  More than two-thirds of its operating budget is provided by revenue from its retail shops, parking, food service and fund-raising.  The remaining third is provided from a subsidy from the Chicago Park District.  The zoo welcomes 3.5 million-4 million visitors a year, with as many as 35,000 in a day.

Images courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

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