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 enhances 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 of the natural world.
Distractions are encouraged, and come not from smart phones, but from the sounds and movements of nearby animals. Our design presents a strong indoor/outdoor connection, with panoramic views to the zoo grounds. A large outdoor adventure area has 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/kindergarten environment with that of the 11th and 12th 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.