Project Type: Museum

Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo &
Faris Family Education Center
Philadelphia, PA

Architect: SMP Architects

In this unique playing and learning environment at the Philadelphia Zoo, all the fences and barriers between the animals and visitors are removed. The zoo guests can brush the sheep and rare goats and pet the chickens and miniature horses. Inside, guests can learn about and check out parakeets, coral reef fish, desert ants and other smaller animals or take part in a “Wildlife Academy” in the Education Center. There are also interactive exhibits designed to inspire and inform, focusing on topics of recycling and energy conservation.

The building that houses all the interior exhibits and learning spaces was converted from its previous function as the Pachyderm House. Because the requirements and functions of the new spaces were so drastically different, great care needed to be taken to manage the acoustics and noise in the building. Metropolitan Acoustics was hired to perform a full analysis and site survey of the Pachyderm House to determine the reverberation times in various proposed new exhibit halls and program rooms. We provided detailed reports complete with recommendations for interior finishes, acoustical treatments, and drawings.

The renovation of this building meant that all of the mechanical systems needed to be replaced, and because the rooms were going to be used as exhibit spaces and classrooms they needed to be isolated from sound and vibration that can typically come from large air-handlers, condensers, and ductwork. We evaluated sound levels from the proposed mechanical systems in all of the proposed new spaces. Our recommendations for limiting the transmission of noise included dissipative silencers, neoprene mounts, and vibration-isolation hangers for the units.

The facility was awarded the prestigious LEED Gold certification in 2013; a testament to the care and effort put into the renovation and design of the systems and finishes. The interior environment is pleasant and performs acoustically as expected, providing a great atmosphere for the countless visitors that visit KidZooU each year. Renovations like this pose a whole different set of challenges than new construction from an acoustics and sound isolation perspective, but as was the case here, with proper attention paid to the recommendations throughout construction the results are as promised.

West Point Visitor’s Center