No Monkeying Around: Houston Zoo Gorilla Habitat

April 28, 2021by Admin

In 2015, we had the privilege of working on one of the most anticipated projects in Houston: the African Gorilla Forest at the Houston Zoo. No previous gorilla exhibit existed; we started from scratch. The design and construction teams worked tirelessly alongside the staff at the zoo to create two distinct spaces that span about two-thirds of an acre, including an outdoor habitat and a multi-tiered night house. The forest is a state-of-the-art natural habitat with features that include a waterfall, flowing stream, natural and artificial logs, and boardwalks where visitors can get a closer look. There is also a huge, sloping berm with a dense forest and moat.

This was a unique project, and attention to detail was of the utmost importance. Gorillas can use any debris over 3/8-inch to scratch and potentially break windows, so all earthwork had to use smaller-size soil particles. The civil engineers on the project developed an atypical pavement section with the geotechnical engineer using crushed granite without limestone or lime to avoid any potential damage to the plants and trees from soil stabilization. The project required extensive coordination with the architect, Houston Zoo, and Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and is another great example of how we help our clients Think Outside. 

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