Chicago Tribune – “Lincoln Park Zoo’s Playful New Gateway”

October 11, 2019
Kendall Mc Caugherty Hall Merrick Photographers 1209 007

Called the Sear­le Vis­i­tor Cen­ter and locat­ed at the east end of the 49-acre zoo, off Can­non Dri­ve, the $9 mil­lion build­ing was designed by Chicago’s Ross Bar­ney Archi­tects, whose cred­its include the acclaimed down­town river­walk. The cen­ter hous­es an ori­en­ta­tion space with retractable glass walls, a stor­age area for wheel­chairs and strollers, office and back-of-house space, a lounge for zoo mem­bers and pub­lic restrooms. At its best, it reflects the skill of the firm’s name­sake, Car­ol Ross Bar­ney, at shap­ing vibrant pub­lic spaces.

Bar­ney and her con­sult­ing struc­tur­al engi­neer Bob Magrud­er gave the cen­ter a fab­u­lous canopy. It con­sists of inter­con­nect­ed steel pan­els that bal­ance each oth­er like a crazy teeter-tot­ter or set of div­ing boards. The pan­els are infilled with a love­ly laser-cut pat­tern that resem­bles the branch­es of a tree. The canopy seems to lev­i­tate. You see it and ask: How did they do that?

Barney’s design, a pair of build­ings clad in Indi­ana lime­stone and glass, eschews the overt his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences of its pre­de­ces­sor. But it’s not a sleek, steel-and-glass work of mod­ernism. The nature-inspired pat­tern of its canopies and gate prac­tice mime­sis, the act of rep­re­sent­ing the nat­ur­al world in art. The pat­tern also reflects how zoos increas­ing­ly view them­selves as oases of nature in an urban­iz­ing world.” 

Read the full arti­cle at chicagotri​bune​.com.
See the full project here.

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