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January 29, 2018
The Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo is the largest center in the U.S. devoted to public education on penguin conservation.
Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects of Seattle was the design architect, interior and landscape architect, and did exhibit and habitat design.
The $25.5 million center is home to over 80 penguins, with a 326,000-gallon pool, a 4,600-square-foot land area, and a cold air and water environment to match their native habitat.
The building's exterior resembles an iceberg, with a crevasse and waterfall cascading from the roof. The entry was influenced by polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition. Guests descend ramps, surrounded by 4-D effects, including blasts of polar air and sea mist.
Penguins can be seen swimming above and around through transparent underwater tunnels.
Near net-zero water goals were met through the recirculation and treatment of the habitat and animal-management pools, wash-down systems, and exterior splash-play area.
The project won the 2017 Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for excellence in exhibit design.
Owner: Detroit Zoological Society
General contractor: DeMaria/Wharton-Smith, Inc. joint venture
Architect of record, envelop design, structural engineer, MEP, lighting: Albert Kahn Associates
Design architect, interiors, landscape, exhibit and habitat design: Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects
Civil engineer: Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull
Life support systems: T.A. Maranda Consultants,
Cost estimators: Oppenheim Lewis
Interpretive and media productions: SimEx-Iwerks
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