Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park

Onondaga County Parks
Syracuse, NY

EDR worked closely with the Prime Engineering team to redesign and create a more inviting entrance to the Zoo. During the planning process, EDR was responsible for engaging and facilitating a challenging group of stakeholders (Onondaga County, Friends of the Zoo, Onondaga County Parks and Physical Services, and Zoo Director) to successfully collaborate on developing a collective vision and “new image” for the Zoo. The design includes improvements to functional aspects of the entrance as well as playful features to engage and excite visitors. These improvements include new pavements, water features, eating opportunities, a foot bridge, new plantings, a green wall, and a pair of shade sails, among other features. Beyond aesthetic improvements and upgrades to the hardscape, accommodates were made to provide for safer arrivals and departures of the large number of school children that regularly visit the facility. The design also created opportunities for green infrastructure improvements promoting the County’s nationally-recognized SAVE THE RAIN program. Stormwater is collected and creatively directed into the storm system, which is then transported into newly created  bio-retention facilities on the zoo property. Other sustainable elements of the design include addition of porous pavement to specified walkway areas, and installation of low maintenance plantings. Custom interpretive signage was custom-designed by EDR to demonstrate how the various sustainable elements throughout the zoo operate in terms that a non-engineer of all ages can understand. 

In 2020 the Rosamond Gifford Zoo developed a new state of the art medical facility that will provide the public, as well as veterinary professionals with educational opportunities on animal medical care. EDR provided design through construction oversight during the project implementation.   The 190,000 SF facility was carefully located on the northern perimeter of the Zoo, in the space available between the existing primate housing and a main artery of the County’s water lines.  The addition of the Animal Medical Center allows the Zoo to keep its AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accreditation, ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare and management.  The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of only 238 accredited establishments in the United States with less than 10% of animal exhibitors being accredited. 

A Savanah planting theme featuring native plants was utilized to keep with the Zoo’s mission of conservation and care.   

EDR provided landscape architecture design, site plan development, and civil engineering for the new facility. EDR provided coordination with utility purveyors regarding design elements adjacent to existing and significant areawide utilities including watermains and the relocation of existing underground electric and gas lines. Other design elements included specialized protection plan for sensitive watermain, preparation of construction documents, fire access lanes through construction process, maintaining the  zoo’s perimeter fencing, animal loading and unloading for zoo’s new quarantine suite, loading dock facility for the main medical facility, stormwater management, new storm sewers, the extension of water mains, the design of a public gathering space, new site lighting and site furnishings.