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Wild Things! Store and Big Cats Cafe,
Lincoln Park Zoo

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

A cafe and store enliven a zoo's hub

© Barbara Karant

For more photos click on 'photos & drawings' above.

To see the people and products behind this project click on 'people & products.'

This new retail and food service facility is constructed at the geographic center of the Lincoln Park Zoo on the central plaza, an area highly scrutinized by the neighborhood and city administration. The design responds to the needs of this central location in a variety of ways. A grove of trees creates a quiet zone for viewing adjacent to the lion and tiger habitats. Along the face of the new store, a crowded area for pedestrians, a broad walkway enhances movement. A "gateway" stair encourages traffic to the less traveled northern portions of the zoo at a higher elevation.

The architecture of the new building is dominated by a serpentine red brick wall. The materials connect the new structure with the traditional campus buildings. A fabric canopy similar in elevation to the plan of the serpentine wall covers the rooftop terrace. The "gateway" stair reflects the form of the serpentine wall and wraps around the building leading to the rooftop cafe.

The restaurant is located inside an existing red brick building and the new store is also built of red brick. It confidently announces its presence with an undulating facade and roof structure. Store revenue exceeded expectations by 44 percent in its first year of operation. Several other zoos have used the Lincoln Park plan as a model for their own rehabilitation efforts.

Formal name of building:
Wild Things! Store and Big Cats Cafe

Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

Gross square footage:
8,000 sq ft

Total construction cost:
$ 3.55 million

Lincoln Park Zoological Society

Architect's firm:
Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
500 N. Dearborn St, 9th floor
Chicago, IL 60610
312/332-0363 phone
312/332-4727 fax



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