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May 18, 2015

Special Applications: Artistic Merit

Photo courtesy of WACA
Shotcrete was used to create rocks, waterfalls, pools, trees and vines.

Banyan Wilds exhibit

Location: Seattle

Owner/developer: Woodland Park Zoo

Team: Forma Construction, general contractor; Turnstone Construction, concrete contractor; Studio Hanson Roberts, architect; Howe Engineering, structural engineer; Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, ready-mix supplier

Banyan Wilds is the Woodland Park Zoo’s most ambitious new exhibit in nearly two decades.

The 2-acre exhibit immerses guests in the tropical forests of Asia, and tells the story of Asia’s magnificent animals and their habitats. The first phase opened in 2013, displaying small clawed otters, and the second phase, homes for Malaysian tigers and sloth bears, was recently completed.

Shotcrete was placed and manipulated to represent the textures, forms and colors of an Asian rain forest, including termite mounds, earthen embankments and root balls.

Steel armatures provided the shape and forms of rocks, trees and vines. Crews shotcreted the armatures with custom mixes that allowed the artistic team to develop fine details using tools as small as dental picks and fine paintbrushes.

In some areas, electrical cables were placed between layers of concrete to heat the dens and prominent rock structures that the animals rest on. Concrete both protects the cables and provides the mass that they heat for the animals’ comfort.

Concrete also is a durable surface that can withstand the high impacts of tigers and bears.

Pervious pavement colored in earthen tones was used in areas not planted or covered in textured shotcrete, including a path designed as a forest road that visitors navigate in the exhibit. Crews manually compacted the material and worked carefully alongside surrounding trees and plantings.

In some areas, zoo visitors walk on concrete colored in earthen tones and embossed with animal tracks.

Structural concrete was used as a durable and cleanable surface in the back-of-house areas.

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