New "Heart of the Zoo" at Minnesota Zoo Transforms Entrance, Activities and Exhibits


The first phase of the "Heart of the Zoo" project at the Minnesota Zoological Garden in Apple Valley, Minnesota, has transformed the concrete, out-of-date main entrance and adjacent structures into inviting new entry and education facilities, and a state-of-the-art animal habitat. Designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis, with Seattle-based exhibit design consultants The Portico Group, the renovation supports an immersive and comfortable experience for visitors to the Minnesota Zoo, while ensuring the health, safety and comfort of exhibition animals.

HGA initially developed a 100,000-square-foot master plan for an extensive Heart of the Zoo renovation. The master plan included additions and renovations to three original buildings constructed in 1975, which would strengthen connections and circulation between buildings and exhibits. In addition, a renovated entry would include three interconnected components: new animal exhibits, a more welcoming Visitor Center, and an Environmental Education Center. Based on funding options after the project started, HGA worked with the Zoo to develop a phased approach to the master plan.