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Gruzen Samton LLP Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, Exhibits

Overview: The Carl F. Kauffeld House of Reptiles, located in an expanded and renovated wing of the 1930’s WPA exhibit hall of the Staten Island Zoo, houses their renowned reptile collection, which includes aquatic, venomous, and non-venomous snakes and invertebrates. With over 200 species and specimens, the new serpentarium exhibits emphasize bio-diversity, and its facilities showcase and support the reptiles in their “native” habitats.

Sustainable Features: To accomplish this, the design has created very specific environments – variously warm, hot, dry, wet – for over 40 separate exhibits/cages. The building is expected to save 20% over its energy baseline despite the heavy heat demand, using measures such as zoned controls, envelope improvements, heat recovery, new burners for the existing boilers and premium efficiency motors. Radiant-heated artificial rocks are used extensively in the exhibit cages, a more energy efficient way to keep the reptiles warm than the previous heat lamps. And new skylights and clerestories bring in daylight for the anaconda, aquatic and desert exhibits where the light and temperature variations are acceptable.

With the reptiles comfortable, the building also supports the other two user groups–public visitors and zoo keepers. Separate HVAC systems and controls serve the visitor areas. The electric lighting for the viewers is subdued, utilizing light from the exhibits, skylights and clerestory. The zoo keeper work areas are located along the exterior walls, taking advantage of the natural light and operable windows of the existing building.

The predominant interior materials have recycled content and the display casework is made of bamboo material. There was limited opportunity to save on potable water use, however, because reptiles need very pure water (minimal recirculation) and the wing has no rest rooms.

Located in Clove Hill, Staten Island, New York. 16,000 gross square feet (7,500 sf addition + 8,500 sf renovation) in a campus setting. Construction cost of
$15,250,000. Building completion Fall 2006 (Design commenced 2000).

Client Agencies: NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; NYC Department of Design & Construction.

 LEED Info [PDF]      Project Team [PDF]

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Sustainable Site

Open space protected and restored
Community space provided
Education program about different environments
Alternate transportation available

Adjacent trees and plantings protected from construction
Bio-diverse exhibits with educational material
Erosion and sedimentation control plan
Urban setting near public transportation


Water Efficiency

Landscape uses no irrigation

Established trees and plantings protected during construction
Recirculation utilized where not precluded by health concerns



Energy use reduced–20% over the existing baseline
Annual energy savings of $58,300 (2002 rates)
Payback–2.1 years simple payback of energy conserving measures
Comfort for reptiles and visitors
Cleaner burning fuel
System-operations integrated

Heat recovery from exhibit exhaust air to preheat ventilation air
Heating of exhibits with radiant-heated “rocks”
Daylighting for keeper-occupied spaces and selected exhibits
High-performance lighting – ambient and exhibit. Metal halide source used in
exhibits where possible. Low-voltage halogen used when incandescent
required by animals. Controls – dual switching and timers
Envelope improved with high-performance glass, and with insulation at
replacement roof
Replacement of burners on existing boilers – gas with oil back-up
Premium efficiency fans and pump motors
Commissioning of systems


Material Conservation

Existing building saved and rehabilitated
Construction and demolition waste – over 50% diverted from landfill
Recycled materials used
Rapidly renewable products used

Existing building retained, structure, finishes
Construction and demolition waste sorted at off-site facility
Major materials targeted for recycled content, including ceramic tile, fly-ash in
concrete, steel, gypsum board, rubber flooring, fire-proofing, ceiling tile and
Linoleum flooring and bamboo veneer exhibit casework


Healthy Interiors

Environment optimized for reptiles, visitors, and keepers
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Daylight maximized where appropriate
Building systems and occupants protected from construction contamination

Separate systems and controls for each use area
Keeper’s work area with operable windows, natural ventilation
Skylights or clerestories for exhibits where natural light is appropriate
Specifications for low-emitting paints, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-
formaldehyde composite woods


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