Polar Bear Exhibit Renovation & Expansion

NC Zoological Park 2010 Recreation Asheboro, NC 10, 200 square feet Back to Projects

As one of North Carolina Zoo’s most popular exhibits, the polar bear habitat allows viewing of bears underwater and from an overlook. The visitor experience was lacking space for displaying interpretive elements to educate the public about the bears’ natural habitat.

The new facilities offer visitors two unique viewing experiences for the NC Zoo’s 700,000 annual visitors. The first of these is a sensory immersion experience from a simulated “ice cave” that includes tactile elements evocative of the tundra. The second is an interpretive pavilion that contains educational and artistic interpretive pieces and provides space for educational programs run by zoo staff. Our design team worked closely with the zoo’s in-house fabrication team who completed all of the rock work within the exhibit.

Sustainable design principles were incorporated into the design and construction of the new polar bear exhibit buildings were practical and cost-effective, including updating systems to be energy efficient, selection of natural and local materials, and the reuse of trees cleared from the site as bear enrichment elements in the exhibit. Our work included extensive design meetings with the client and expert consultants to evaluate the needs of the facility and establish a choreographed viewing experience. We used 3D models and animated walkthroughs to simulate the visitor sequence through the exhibit, enabling us to quickly respond to and incorporate feedback from the range of client representatives. Our graphic representations were helpful as marketing tools for our client to secure patrons for the project.

Photography: Joyce Vollmer