Indianapolis Zoo: Getting Back to Nature

In 2015, The Indianapolis Zoo received a $10milion grant from the Lily Endowment. Attached to the investment was a condition that it be used to implement and develop an initiative that benefits the community and offers long-term sustainability.  With these guidelines in mind, the Zoo identified a project that would align with its strategic plan to attract, engage, and accommodate visitors all year round.

Executing the creative design, RATIO Architects designed the Bicentennial Pavilion and Promenade. The open-air events space, modelled after a lush rainforest with 11 steel-framed “tree canopies”, is a multi-purpose, open-air events facility within the Indianapolis Zoo.

Environmental impact was a key consideration in the development of this facility. RATIO opted to incorporate the U-Lite™ low-slope canopy system, developed by Kingspan Light + Air to provide weather-protection, a perfect balance of diffused and direct light to the ground below to benefit both visitors and existing plant life and the creation of a rainwater harvesting system.

When water contacts the Pavilion’s canopy, it is funnelled into the pods, down their rain screens of custom-designed, laser-cut weathered steel, to a sunken, plant-filled bed below – collecting and filtering 100% of its stormwater runoff.

Built primarily from natural materials, the pavilion is a beautiful example of multifunctional and sustainable design that creates an exceptional environment for visitors. It is a space where adults and children can embrace the natural surroundings and the variety of experiences offered within the zoo.

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