Proposing a New Paradigm of Conservation Education that Connects People to Nature and Wildlife

  • Client

    Saint Louis Zoo

  • Project Title

    Saint Louis Zoo Various Projects

  • Location

    St. Louis, MO

  • Size

    89 acres

"The River’s Edge is the Zoo’s premier Immersion exhibit featuring Black Rhino, Hippopotamus, Asian Elephant, Cheetah, Hyena and more. Shortly after completion, the Zoo was rated “Americas Best Zoo” by Zagat Surveys and Parenting Magazine. I wholeheartedly endorse SWT Design’s creativity, skills and the professionals leading their team."

Dr. Jeffery Bonner

President and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo

In 2012, the Saint Louis Zoo set an all-time attendance record of more than 3.5 million visitors.

Project Scale

  • Object

  • Site

  • Community

  • System

  • Region

Temporality

  • On the Books

  • Under Construction

  • Recently Completed

  • Design Study

  • Established

Project Type

  • Civic Amenities
  • Placemaking and Branding

For almost 100 years, the Saint Louis Zoo has served the community and the surrounding region as one of the only three remaining free accredited zoos in the country. The institution’s vision, ‘Animals Always,’ is interwoven into each and every experience on this 120-acre property, from the parking lot and the arrival sequence, to the exhibits and native materials.
Each exhibit tells a unique story of preservation, habitat, research, and sustainability. Some, like the 1904 World’s Fair Flight Cage, have historical significance, dating back as the impetus for the Zoo’s development in 1913. Its renovation was pivotal in preserving the world’s largest free-flight aviary.
Sensitive and engaging design is immersionary. Materials are selected to reflect the natural ecosystems in which each animal lives, from the lush forests of the Andean Bears to the grasslands of the African Wild Dog. And this immersionary experience begins from the moment visitors exit their cars and walk to the main gates. The Zoo’s main entrance, the South Arrival Plaza, is a successful study of pedestrian safety and vehicular circulation, as well as a functioning stormwater management system designed to slow and collect water as it drains across the lot.

"The complexity and variation of projects that comes from partnering with an institution like the Saint Louis Zoo has been a rewarding experience for us. It’s taught us so much in the field of zoological design."

Ted H. Spaid

Partner, Founder