ORB Architects is the Architect of Record as a sub-consultant to project lead firm Studio Hanson/Roberts who is re-designing the Asian bears and tigers exhibit for the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, which will house Malayan tigers, sloth bears, endangered turtles, songbirds, and small-clawed otters.

The new $19.6 million exhibit replaces a 60-year old exhibit and will be built in two phases, the first phase opened in May 2013 and the second phase is slated to open in 2014. The new exhibit incorporates sustainable green design upgrades.

ORB and Studio Hanson/Roberts completed Phase 1 design of the new small-clawed otter exhibit and kids' camp nature-play area. Woodland Park Zoo uses a unique design process, which means that members of the design team and zoo staff often meet for large collaborative working sessions. ORB was involved in most of these and was therefore able to contribute to all aspects of the design from how it relates to animal management to the zoo's mission to establish conservation efforts for these animals' natural habitats.


The otter exhibit has a 250-square-foot back-of-the-house holding facility for the animals, a 7,000-gallon exhibit pool, life support systems for the otters, wetland area, acrylic viewing panels and viewing areas.

ORB coordinated the design and construction documents of all the buildings including permitting. This included fully coordinating the life, safety, and welfare items by code. ORB design and coordination included the otter exhibit and night quarters for Phase 1; the Bear Grotto renovations including the keeper office spaces and restroom; Feline House renovations, keeper transfer and holding cells, interior upgrades; Conservation Action Center; multi-purpose room and accessory spaces.

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