The Ambassador Building at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a complex of structures and open spaces that will serve as part of the zoo’s outreach and education program by providing facilities for animal holding and staff workspace. The facility consists of three separate structures. The main building offers workspaces for zookeepers and veterinarians, as well as separate holding rooms that can be used for small mammal and reptile birthing and hibernation. Retired animals that are part of the zoo’s outreach education and Zoomobile programs are housed in a building with 12 enclosures that are directly connected to outdoor play areas easily accessed and maintained by zookeepers. A series of detached mews that offer natural light, views, and places to perch create improved housing for raptors.
The Ambassador Building is a “back-of-house” facility and not intended as part of the day-to-day visitor experience of the zoo. However, the architecture of this important complex merits careful and intentional design.
The overarching design goal was to create a useful and durable building that confidently sits in the background and does not call attention to itself. It humbly takes its role as a “park-like” support facility set within the zoo. The quiet and simple architecture, expressed by low-pitched gabled roofs, carefully detailed wire mesh enclosures, and earthy concrete block, creates an elegant and functional addition in a way that captures the high value placed on design by the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.