The Pepper Family Wildlife Center was a $41 million renovation, restoration and expansion of the historic lion house at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. The 54,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility nearly doubles the size of the previous lion habitat and provides increased transparency and a more immersive experience for visitors. Guests now have immersive, “nose-to-nose” viewing opportunities from both inside and outside the building. The unique design also facilitates viewing from the Lion Loop, a sunken elliptical path leading visitors down from the TAWANI Great Hall into the center of the habitat. The loop provides visitors the opportunity to view lions from all around—even through skylights overhead. The project also includes a demonstration training wall where visitors will be able to view the lions working with zoo staff to participate in their own care. The overall educational focus of the building is the zoo’s ongoing conservation efforts in Africa.
Kirkegaard’s efforts addressed noise and vibration control, sound isolation, and acoustics design throughout the project, including the existing Kovler Lion House, Lion Loop, meeting room, and lion holding. The primary focus was to reduce mechanical noise and provide loudness control to create comfortable and pleasant aural spaces for patrons and the animals.