The expansion and renovation of the Seal and Sea Lion exhibit at the National Zoological Park evokes the coastal environment of the Pacific Northwest, creating a natural, sustainable habitat as well as an exciting, immersive experience for visitors.
Quinn Evans Architects designed the life support building featuring fresh water and salt water holding pools, advanced systems, and a new concession kiosk. The renewed Seal and Sea Lion exhibit is the feature exhibit along the new American Trail, which winds from the Elephant Outpost to the Amazonia exhibit.
“We tried to create a little piece of the West Coast. You might think you’re in Oregon.”
Chuck Fillah, Associate Director of Planning and Strategic Initiatives, National Zoological Park
PROTECTING THE “RUGGED GRANDEUR”
The Seal and Sea Lion exhibit on the American Trail project transformed the public spaces, exhibit environments, pools, animal care areas, systems, and the Life Support System (LSS) building supporting the exhibit pools. The design introduced the natural and cultural vocabulary of the Pacific Northwest while integrating local, site-specific traditions and materials and protecting the rugged grandeur of the heavily wooded, sloping valley. The LSS building provides a human context for the exhibits while functioning as an efficient space for operating, monitoring, and adjusting systems. Specially designed features include advanced life support and water-cleansing systems, varied tide pool sizes and configurations, fresh and salt-water ready systems, wave-action equipment, and adjustable shade systems.
© Ron Blunt Photography
“American Trail showcases species that are gems of North American wildlife, and treasures to us all. These animals represent the triumph of the American spirit and conservation success stories.”
Smithsonian National Zoological Park