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PR- 113-07
April 18, 2007


New Environmentally Sustainable Design Will Reduce Energy Consumption by 20%

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today unveiled the newly refurbished, state-of-the-art reptile wing at the Staten Island Zoo, home to one of the largest collection of venomous snakes in the nation.  The City invested $18.8 million in capital funds in the 16,600-square foot project through the Department of Cultural Affairs.  The new wing will house 120 species of reptiles, and features a new main entrance, a two-level alligator pool, interactive exhibition space, classrooms, an auditorium, and the “Fear Zone” – a special exhibition designed to educate and dispel common myths about snakes and other reptiles.  The project also incorporates a number of environmentally sustainable features for energy reduction and improved air quality.  The Mayor was joined by Cultural Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Design and Construction (DDC ) Commissioner David J. Burney, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, Council Member Michael McMahon, the Zoo’s Director John Caltabiano, and Board Chair William Frew.

“Not only is New York City a world capital of art and culture, we are also home to one of the largest venomous snake collections in North America,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “From its founding, education has been a vital part of the Zoo’s mission.  The opening of today’s Reptile Wing will vastly expand the Zoo’s ability to fulfill that mission, and the Zoo is doing so in an environmentally responsible way, by reducing energy consumption by 20 percent and improving air quality.”

The new Carl F. Kauffeld Reptile Wing is dedicated to the memory of a renowned herpetologist who served as the Zoo’s Director and Curator of Reptiles from 1936 to 1973 and has been credited with bringing the collection international acclaim.  The refurbished reptile house took two years to complete and is located in an expanded and renovated wing of the 1930’s WPA exhibit hall of the Zoo.  The design for the wing, by Gruzen Samton LLP, received an AIA Staten Island Design Excellence Award in 2004.  The project includes a 32-foot long bronze python designed by artist Steve Foust for the curved exterior wall of the new main entrance.  The artwork was commissioned by the City’s Percent for Art program.

The new facilities showcase and support the Zoo’s collection of aquatic, venomous, and non-venomous snakes and invertebrates in their “native” habitats.  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 a variety of energy efficiency measures.  Radiant-heated artificial rocks are used extensively in the exhibit cages in lieu of heat lamps, and new skylights and clerestories bring in daylight for the anaconda, aquatic and desert exhibits.  In addition, the exhibition spaces and zoo keeper work areas take advantage of natural light through windows, skylights and clerestories.  Most of the fabrication materials have recycled content and the display casework is made of bamboo material.

“I applaud the Zoo’s commitment to creating a dynamic, environmentally friendly public space that gives children and adults of all ages the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary world of reptiles,” said DCA Commissioner Kate Levin.  “Indeed, this new facility will allow the Staten Island Zoo to enhance its contribution to the City’s vibrant non-profit cultural community.”

“DDC is proud to have worked with the Staten Island Zoo on this unique project. In conjunction with the Department of Cultural Affairs, we aimed to expand upon the zoo’s outstanding reputation as a herpetological leader through balancing an interesting aesthetic, visitor education, and the needs of the 120 species showcased in the new wing,” said DDC Commissioner David Burney.  “This state-of-the-art habitat will increase reptile survival, improve the environment for the keepers, and provide a very unique setting in which the 200,000 yearly visitors can learn.”

“The spectacular new reptile house of the Staten Island Zoo is an incredible product of the combined effort of DCA and DDC, as well as the excellent design and construction team and our professional zoo staff, working together for a common goal,” Zoo Director John Caltabiano said.  “I have waited two years for this moment and am very proud to have been a part the process.”


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958


Sara Rutkowski   (Cultural Affairs)
(212) 513-9323

Matthew Monahan   (Design and Construction)
(718) 391-1641

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