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Zoo Names Team to Help Plan $125 Million Bond Improvements

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SRG Partnership will craft 25-year zoo master plan

SRG Partnership, a Portland architecture and planning firm, is heading up a world-class team of consultants who will help the Oregon Zoo chart a course for the next 25 years, zoo officials said. SRG, along with CLR Design, Atelier Dreiseitl and a cadre of subconsultants, will spend the next year evaluating zoo operations and creating a master plan for projects funded by the $125 million zoo bond measure passed in 2008. Their plan is expected to be complete by fall 2011.

"We are excited to be working with this team of highly accomplished professionals who will help us make the zoo an even better place for animals and people, " said Kim Smith, zoo director. "The team will create a comprehensive plan for the zoo, designs for specific exhibits and facilities, and plans for saving water and energy that will make the zoo a model of sustainability. They will also help us schedule these improvements and assess costs and savings, ensuring that we maintain excellent stewardship of public funds and complete these projects on time and on budget."

Once the master plan is complete, the zoo will spend an estimated eight years building the exhibits that will turn the voters’ vision into reality. In addition to tackling the exciting lineup of animal exhibits and other new facilities outlined in the bond, the consultant team will provide expert advice on reuse and conservation of water and energy. Sustainability initiatives will include harvesting rainwater, improving the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, reclaiming and recycling water from animal exhibits, and possibly generating energy on site.

In preparation for the zoo bond measure in November 2008, staff identified animal care and programmatic needs along with target budgets for nine projects that included six animal exhibits, a new educational facility, upgrades to pipes, roads and energy systems, and a new veterinary medical clinic. To make the most efficient and effective use of bond funds, this team of master planning experts will work with zoo staff to determine the location of each exhibit. The team will also develop a project phasing plan and address a variety of complex scheduling and budgeting issues.

With an understanding of the zoo’s mission and thematic goals, and the range of programs offered to visitors of all ages, SRG will map a new layout of zoo facilities and craft schematic designs, illustrations and thorough descriptions for each project. The new designs will improve visitor circulation and address grading, landscaping, construction materials, lighting and exhibit signs.

The SRG team will be responsible for estimating the costs for improvements, sequencing projects and providing an overall schedule. They will also help staff consider important features of the zoo campus such as the railroad ride and the concert stage and lawn, as well as factor in constraints such as ground instability in some areas. The consultant team will help zoo staff integrate construction into zoo operations as seamlessly as possible to ensure that the zoo remains a welcoming and enjoyable attraction for visitors and that there is minimal impact to animal health and safety.

SRG has previously spearheaded successful projects for the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Portland Public Schools, Portland Community College and Portland State University. CLR Design is internationally recognized for animal habitat designs and innovative master planning. Atelier Dreiseitl, best known locally for their work on Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl District, is a world leader in sustainable landscape design, pioneering methods for integrating natural water systems into urban spaces. They will explore ways to integrate the zoo’s water resources into the site design. The upper reaches of Tanner Creek currently flow through a culvert beneath zoo grounds.

Some zoo facilities are more than 50 years old and are worn out or outdated. The zoo plans to achieve significant water and energy savings as these worn-out systems are replaced. Some of these new water and energy systems may become exhibits in their own right, showcasing methods for using limited resources in more sustainable ways that can be replicated in homes or businesses.

"Thanks to the voters and their generous support of our bond measure, we can follow through on our conservation and sustainability initiatives, as well as improve animal health and safety, " Smith said. "Through careful and thoughtful planning, we will continue to inspire our visitors and serve as an institution that our community can be proud of."

Image: Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

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