Lincoln Park Zoo Unveils Searle Visitor Center

Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo unveils new Visitor Center.

“Today, Lincoln Park Zoo unveiled Searle Visitor Center, a space dedicated to the 3.6 million visitors the zoo welcomes each year. The $9.3 million project is a part of the zoo’s $135 million The Pride of Chicago capital campaign.

‘Searle Visitor Center is a perfect welcome to Lincoln Park Zoo,’ said President & CEO Kevin Bell. ‘Guests will be greeted in the sleek and modern space by knowledgeable staff and volunteers who can help customize any visit. A cinema-sized screen highlights daily programs, ways to support the zoo, and the diversity of animals in our care.’

Searle Visitor Center is a state-of-the-art building including guest services, a Member Center generously supported by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo, curated gardens, a newly imagined East Gate, and accessible and inclusive restrooms.

Designed with guest experience in mind, Searle Visitor Center is a dedicated place to get information, maps, rent a stroller and borrow a sensory bag or wheelchair (these accessibility tools are free of charge). The building also includes quiet spaces for nursing mothers or those with sensory concerns.

As part of Searle Visitor Center, the zoo has opened its first Member Center. This space is available to the zoo’s passionate members – a quiet place to take a break while enjoying specialized services and exclusive programming. In addition, this space serves as a one-stop-shop for donating to the zoo, ADOPTing an animal, purchasing Wish List items and renewing or purchasing zoo memberships.

Searle Visitor Center was made possible by generous donations from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and Lincoln Park Zoo’s Women’s Board, as well as the Crown Family and Gordon and Carole Segal. The zoo’s building partners include Ross Barney Architects, AVA Consultants and Bulley & Andrews.

‘Visiting Lincoln Park Zoo has always been a special experience for me,’ said Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, Design Principal at Ross Barney Architects. ‘We are honored to have had the opportunity to create the gateway that welcomes people to the magic.’

Lincoln Park Zoo is also seeking LEED certification for Searle Visitor Center, with its green roof, use of repurposed materials, energy-efficient HVAC, permeable paving and more.

The opening of Searle Visitor Center also signifies the return of the Adelor lion statue, a beloved favorite of zoo guests.”


Photo © Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo