The design for the new entrance and animal habitats at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden introduces a dynamic and welcoming visitor experience for one of the nation’s top zoological parks. Replacing a formerly cramped and outdated space, the new facilities help to better serve and accommodate the zoo’s over one million annual guests. Design elements include a landscaped plaza and entry gates, a guest services and ticketing facility, a new gift shop, and two new animal habitats (habitats by CLR Design) .
Designed as a village of separate structures, the architecture of the new buildings takes formal and material cues from the existing zoo context as well as African safari influences, as demonstrated by the sloping roof forms, the warm and inviting material palette, and the careful detailing of the exposed wood structure. A strong sense of visual transparency and openness is created through the use of expansive window walls and clerestory windows. This arrangement of building components is carefully juxtaposed to strike a balance between rustic and contemporary imagery.