Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo Education Building3701 South 10th Street
Omaha, NE 68107
Design Achievement - In a world filled with technology, Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo’s Education Building offers a space for students to connect with the natural world, providing opportunities for “adventure education” that enhance their understanding of and relationship with the animals and ecosystems around them. Offering full-time high school, preschool and kindergarten classes for up to 220 students, the Education Building exemplifies the Zoo’s education mission to enhance the public’s knowledge in all areas relating to the natural world. Distractions are encouraged, and come not from smart phones, but from the sounds and movements of nearby animals. DLR Group’s design presents a strong indoor/outdoor connection, with panoramic views to the Zoo grounds. A large outdoor adventure area offers multiple play centers, each created to look like a natural habitat where children can observe and mimic different animal actions. Hands-on, interactive learning is facilitated in a multi-purpose, high bay laboratory that bridges the Pre-K-K environment with that of the 11-12 grades. The lab is equipped with retractable seating, a look-through feature with views from the building entrance and electronic shades to darken space for experience simulations. The transparency of the building’s design allows zoo visitors to observe and be inspired by the students.
Scope Summary - The scope of the work helped consolidate the educational facilities and Zoo administration workspaces, which were previously dispersed throughout the campus. This included development of a 42,000 SF multi-use, flexible education building to house classrooms, educator offices and administrative offices for the Zoo. The project added outdoor balconies or patios on the 2nd and 3rd levels and several huddle rooms offering access to a common breakout space that looks out into an adventure play area. A curtain wall, which lines the common area, allows for the openness of north light and addresses summer morning and evening sun angles, while also maximizing the building’s energy efficiency. The new multi-purpose laboratory is equipped with retractable seating, electronic shades and robust audio and video systems for enhanced learning experiences. Educator workplaces are open, collaborative office environments easily visible to students. Multiple points of access to the education component allow for easy facilitation of night camps, summer workshops and other youth activities associated with the zoo. The main building entrance is friendly and clearly visible, incorporating a radius geometry that matches the neighboring Desert Dome structure. DLR Group provided architecture, landscape design and engineering services.