With an animal population of over 190 animal species housed at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, the new Zooplex adds infrastructure necessary to enhance the health and vitality of not only the animals but the staff as well. The ground floor of the two-story building features facilities for animal food storage, preparation, handling and distribution, a generous staff lounge, and shower/locker rooms. The second floor provides offices, meeting rooms, and work areas for zoo administration.
PHA worked with zoo staff to understand specific animal dietary needs, established animal care processes and procedures, and the nuances of various programs to properly design this unique building. Careful consideration went into the layout of the building on the site in relation to surrounding exhibits. The architectural design seeks to maximize the building area necessary to include all required spaces while minimizing the impact on the visitor experience.
While the Zooplex will be visible from several exhibits, it is not part of the day-to-day visitor experience and was designed to not call attention to itself. Instead, we focused on imparting modest integrity in the design and reinforcing the high-quality architectural character that has come to define the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. The low sloped shed roof, ample fenestration, ground-face concrete block, and meticulous detailing creates a striking but appropriate backdrop that enhances the adjacent exhibits.
A photovoltaic array covers the south-facing roof, emphasizing the zoo’s commitment to sustainability. Other sustainable strategies include the use of locally sourced insulated masonry, drought-tolerant plant material, and solar tubes to illuminate interior spaces with abundant natural light. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is undergoing a fundamental transformation from a local attraction to an award-winning facility recognized far beyond the San Joaquin Valley, as new exhibits are added to the zoo and support facilities like the Zooplex are developed.