creative • integrated • sustainable
Rosamond Gifford Zoo
Syracuse, NY

Rosamond Gifford Zoo

2016 Elephant Pool
  • Prime consultant responsible for managing and coordinating with the Design Team as well as the multiple-prime construction contracts and hiring specialty contractors.
  • New elephant pool meets AZA Standards, includes a shallow pool and a deep pool to accommodate different ages and preferences in the elephant herd, has multiple gently sloped entries for safety, incorporates a potable drinker for the elephants, and features a waterfall and artificial rockwork boulders for a naturalistic appearance.
  • Life Support System to filter and recirculate the pool water.
  • New overlook deck for enhanced viewing of exhibit.
  • Green infrastructure practices are being incorporated for on-site storage and infiltration of storm water runoff and pool wastewater.
2016 Events Terrace
  • Developed preliminary concept sketches, schematic plan and contract documents and performed contract administration for construction of a new outdoor events terrace adjacent to the existing banquet/conference facility.
  • Grading and drainage improvements, landscaping and lighting, and various amenities to provide a multi-functional and aesthetically pleasing environment.
2014 Waterfowl Pond Treatment
  • Design to eliminate the need to regularly drain and clean the 105,000 gallon waterfowl pond. This process involved dumping the water to the sanitary system, and the pond was replenished from domestic water, putting a tremendous load on the already taxed municipal treatment plant.  Additionally, there was a cost to refill the pond with domestic water on a continual basis.
  • A recirculation system was designed that continually pumps the waterfowl pond water to an upper level in the zoo.  The outflow at this upper level is designed as a cascading waterfall to a wetland pond.
  • The cascade aerates the water and the wetland aids in settling out suspended solids.  Additionally, wetland plantings aid in cleansing the water.  This is the "primary treatment".
  • From this primary treatment wetland the water flows through a series of small cascades, again to aerate he water, and then flows through a reed bed.
  • The reed bed plantings plus beneficial bacteria in the planting medium and around the root system of the plantings further cleanses the water prior to flowing back into the waterfowl pond.  The reed bed essentially provides secondary treatment.
  • The system is designed to be a zoo exhibit of a natural, sustainable system for treating water.  A boardwalk was installed through the reed bed for zoo patrons to observe the reed bed system and the wildlife it will support.
2011 Elephant Exhibit
  • Site work related to a new elephant building and a number of different viewing areas including a viewing window, renovated boardwalk with recycled material decking, and a shaded pavilion with amphitheater-style seating area.
  • The design included a unique elephant scratching post constructed as a simulated fallen tree.
  • Storm water management system includes a viewing rain garden, drywells, level infiltration subsurface trenches with internal weir plates to hold water and promote infiltration, and vegetated swales along the perimeter of the day yard.
  • 9,000 s.f. eco-friendly green roof on the new elephant building.
  • Roof will allow rain water to be used by uncut vegetation and absorbed into light-weight soil medium.
2011 Primate Exhibit and Courtyard

Primate Exhibit

  • Original exhibit was replaced with an enclosed, supported netting system and perimeter public barrier consisting of fencing and native plantings which serves as a rain garden.
  • Exhibit features include varied topography, boulders, swinging vines and ropes, landscaped with native grass and plant material.  A simulated rock water feature with waterfalls and simulated "heated rocks" provide additional interest and use for primates.
  • Portions of the original exhibit retaining wall were saved and incorporated into the design.
  • Most of the exhibit perimeter allows for public viewing including a unique viewing tunnel to allow visitors access into the exhibit space.


  • Replacement trees planted in specially prepared “structural soil” trenches with overflow underdrains provide proper root growth and stability for vehicle traffic. 
  • Portions of the pavement surface above the structural soil replaced with a porous pavement material.
  • A new cistern/rain barrel with educational panels collects rain water from a nearby roof drain.
  • Remaining portions of the asphalt were milled and replaced with 1-1/2” asphalt overlay.