Bramble Park Zoo Update
This week Steve Cechvala and myself, Christopher Overdorf, were in Watertown, South Dakota leading the design workshop for the Bramble Park Zoo’s first two projects that are part of the zoo’s recently completed master plan, which was authored by ELM. Other partners on the project include Todd Architects, West Plains Engineering and Aason Engineering.
There are two projects in the first phase of work, an otter exhibit and a large children’s zoo.
The new children’s area will focus on celebrating the local agricultural heritage of the Water Town area. We developed some great ideas for the new program and will be collaborating with the Lake Area Technical Institute and hopefully the local high school’s FFA group.
The new program will include a large domestic animal barn that includes holding space for all the zoo’s program animals. Kids will be able to pan for gold in a water flume, walk through a pen with a bunch of chickens, feed goats, and play on a bunch of farm themed play equipment. There will also be a demonstration area for crop rotation and its importance to building healthy soil. There will be two “windmills” built. One will use wind to pump water and grind grains (the more traditional use) and the other will use a new wind turbine that supplies power to the children's zoo area. The new one will reflect the huge economic driver wind energy has become to the area.
Students from the tech college will build the new turbine and the local high school FFA group will become part of the education program at the children's zoo area.
Fortunately, we also met with reps from the Lake Area Technical Institute about coordination of needs with their programs (large animals, renewable energy) and how they can be augmented and promoted.
During the trip, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Upper Big Sioux River Watershed Project to learn about their stream restoration projects. We want the otter exhibit to portray an eroded streambank next to a restored streambank and tell the story of the need for these types of restoration projects.
We also pitched an idea of using “living walls” instead of the standard shotcrete barrier walls in the otter exhibit. More research of these types of systems is needed but it is exciting to think of new dynamic barrier types that can be used at zoos.
During our meetings with the project civil engineer and city engineer on storm, sewer, flood and fire protection needs, I described a site grading strategy that mimics a much larger scale process synonymous to the glacially influenced area the zoo resides in. Basically, lots of small rolling mounds planting with native prairie grasses with several wet depressions could be used to handle surface drainage. These soft prairie mounds would weave through and around the children's zoo site creating framed separated areas for specific uses.
Next steps for this project are to build the CAD files for coordination, lock down floor plans, identify where controls will be located (light switches, doors, animal management gates), and prepare elevations (interior and exterior) for the next workshop in mid-December. Stay tuned to find out more!
By Christopher Overdorf, firm principal
- by Chris Overdorf
- posted at 8:30 pm
- December 5, 2011