Nature Boardwalk, Education Pavilion and South Pond Transformation at Lincoln Park Zoo Winner

Distinguished Building Award, Honor Award

The project transforms a once-polluted and neglected urban pond into a native wildlife refuge, boardwalk, and education pavilion. Deepening the pond improves its oxygen content and reduces urban flooding by increasing its stormwater storage capacity. The pond's planted edge provides bio-filtration of the site's stormwater run-off. Visitors discover a series of educational zones along a boardwalk loop made from recycled plastic. The improved habitat attracts wildlife, allowing people to experience animals in what is essentially a zoo without cages. The education pavilion is an outdoor classroom and meeting place. Its column-free shell structure is made of bent wood elements and clad with fiberglass "pods." Integrated into the boardwalk sequence, the pavilion is sited to frame the pond and skyline beyond. Double-curved, micro-laminated beams reveal the wood's inherent pliability and structural integrity. Both prefabricated wood elements and fiberglass pods are light enough to be lifted by a single person, reducing construction time and cost. In addition to hosting educational activities, the structure creates engaging public space that has been adopted for a variety of community uses. Simultaneously urban and ecological, the project is a model for future public spaces in cities.

Nature Boardwalk and Education Pavilion Architect: Studio Gang Architects
South Pond Transformation Master Plan Architect: Shaw Sustainable Solutions of Illinois, LLC
Project Program Manager and Project Coordinating Engineer: Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc.
Landscape Architect: WRD Environmental

Shaw Sustainable Design Solutions of Illinois, LLC
Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Atomic Props & Effects
  • Christopher B. Burke Engineering
  • Magnusson Klemencic Associates
  • RLD Company
  • WRD Environmental
General contractor
Pepper Construction Group LLC
Chicago, Illinois