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FXFOWLE Architects PC

Overview: The 1903 Lion House at the Bronx Zoo, largest of the Beaux-Arts buildings on the zoo’s central Astor Court, is a NYC Historic Landmark. Its conversion combines preservation, exhibit design, and viable habitat creation to form a spectacular educational presentation of the plants and animals of Madagascar. The Lion House has been awarded a 2005 NYC Green Building Award. The design transforms former open-air cages into new natural environments, while the former public viewing hall incorporates a profitable multipurpose space, opening to a garden and terrace.

Sustainable Features: The integrated design of the Lion House creates an environment that sustains the animal, insect, and plant life of Madagascar, as well as the needs of the zookeepers and the public. The systems are right-sized and nearly invisible—no dropped ceilings hide ductwork, roof vents are eliminated, and a geothermal system negates the need for cooling towers. The building itself lives and breathes, with skylights that adjust with changing light levels and an intricately redesigned skin. The sophisticated Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) skylights are inflatable plastic, capable of adjusting shading, thermal, and aesthetic characteristics as the sun moves. These skylights provide the ultra-violet light needed by the plants and animals but block excessive heat. The geothermal system output is balanced with a fuel cell, the zoo’s cogeneration plant, and condensate waste heat, in a computerized energy conserving protocol. With these integrated measures, and skylights, insulated glazing, and high-performance lighting, the building is projected to use 57% less energy than the ASHRAE 90.1 standard. Extensive commissioning will ensure that all systems are working appropriately.

The building includes an under-floor air system, operable windows, CO2 monitoring in the multi-purpose space, and environmentally-friendly materials throughout. The Zoo will use the building as an educational tool to demonstrate the value of sustainable design as a part of the mission of both the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Located in the Bronx Zoo, Bronx, New York. Size: 43,200 gross square feet (existing building 30,000 GSF) in a campus setting. Construction cost of $31,000,000. Building completion 2006 (Design commenced 2002).

Client Agencies: Wildlife Conservation Society; NYC Department of Design & Construction.

 LEED Info [PDF]     Project Team [PDF]

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Sustainable Site

Open space and surrounding historic structures protected
Cultural enhancement of zoo experience
Stormwater run-off reduced
Alternate transportation encouraged
Urban Heat Island Effect mitigated
Nighttime light pollution reduced

Restored historic building revitalizes central zoo
Site landscaping designed to decrease run-off
Native, drought-resistant plants
Landscaping and trees shade 30% of paved areas
Designated carpool parking and charging stations for electric vehicles
Urban setting near public transportation; designated carpool parking
Bicycle racks and showers


Water Efficiency

Potable water use reduced in building – 53% over 1992 Energy Policy Act,
saving approximately 80,000 gallons/year
Waste water use reduced 21%
Landscaping uses no potable water

Low-flow fixtures, flow restrictors
Waterless urinals
Grey water system reclaims wastewater for toilet use
Native drought-resistant plants requiring no irrigation
Building recycles water for adjacent sea lion exhibit



Energy use reduced - 57% over a baseline ASHRAE 90.1-1999
Annual energy savings of $140,000 (2003); emissions reduced
Payback – 6.3 years simple payback of energy conserving measures
Renewable energy offset energy cost
Fossil fuel use reduced; ozone depletion reduced

Geothermal heat pump system with six standing column wells
Daylighting for exhibits and public areas
Dynamic skylights – Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) technology
Fuel cell
Sophisticated heat recovery protocol, prioritizing use of waste heat from
condensers and fuel cell, steam from Zoo’s co-gen plant
High-performance lighting
Envelope improved with insulation and high-performance glass
Demand-based ventilation controlled by CO2 sensors
High-efficiency variable-air-volume system, fans and pump motors
Comprehensive commissioning of systems
Toleration of larger swings in maintained temperature


Material Conservation

Building resources conserved
Construction and demolition waste – by spring 2006, 96% diverted from
landfill (over 2,800 tons)
Salvaged demolition materials reused
Recycled materials constitute over 10% of materials
Local products given preference, account for over 20%
Rapidly renewable products used
Forest Stewardship Council wood products required

Historic building adapted, rather than demolished
Construction and demolition waste sorted at off-site facility
Salvaged decorative tiles and stone reused here and saved for nearby building
Major materials targeted for recycled content, including fly-ash in concrete,
steel, gypsum board, carpet, and toilet partitions
Local materials include concrete, bricks, rebar, miscellaneous metals
FSC certified framing lumber, plywood, veneers and wood doors


Healthy Interiors

Optimized fresh air quantities
Extensive daylighting, including ultra-violet light required for animals
Building systems and occupants protected from construction contamination
Reduced exposure to toxins, volatile organic compounds, urea formaldehyde
Occupant-controlled lighting, heating, and cooling

CO2 monitors control fresh air
HVAC system designed to deliver 100% outside air
Low-velocity under-floor air distribution system
Exhibit areas with UV transmitting skylights, and Low-E skylights elsewhere
Air quality management during construction required; flush-out before
occupancy required
Low-emitting paints, carpets, adhesives, sealants, non-urea-formaldehyde
composite woods


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