Minnesota Zoological Garden

Heart Of The Zoo

The 110,000 SF Heart of the Zoo Entry pavilion is part of an overall plan to improve the visitor experience with infrastructure upgrades, three new animal exhibits, and reconfigured arrival points.

Phased construction includes:

  • Education building renovation / exhibits / theater (Phase I)
  • Entry pavilion / infrastructure upgrades / exhibits (Phase II)
  • Parking reconfiguration / arrival enhancements (Phase III)

The project’s centerpiece is the Entry pavilion, planned to encompass an existing plaza and serve as the central orientation point for the entire Zoo. The pavilion connects existing education, food services, and administration buildings while incorporating functional, clean architectural detailing that allows the planned Penguins, Macaque and Kopje exhibits to take center stage. Materials include durable concrete floors, white ceilings, sustainably-harvested wood siding, and expansive window walls that open the interior to the zoo grounds.

Additional infrastructure improvements involve remodeling the education, food services, and administration buildings to integrate with the new building.


The architecture is designed to share the zoo’s sustainable story. Sustainable highlights include:

  • Sustainably-harvested wood siding.
  • Energy-efficient HVAC systems.
  • Natural ventilation and daylight.
  • Photovoltaics and wind turbines (in development).