Seneca Park Zoo Entry Plaza

Clark Patterson Lee
Rochester, NY

Monroe County embarked on a Master Plan initiative not only to prioritize future construction projects but also to reaffirm the Zoo’s commitment to animal conservation. This comprehensive planning exercise also strives to harmonize the landscape design themes with the historic Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Park that is home to the zoo.

Monroe County’s exciting $121 million expansion project for the Seneca Park Zoo includes constructing a new front entryway building and plaza, a skyway, a conservation resource center, a trail-side café, a 200,000-gallon aquarium, and innovative outdoor and indoor exhibits. Additionally, the expansion will feature the largest indoor multi-level tropics exhibit in the United States.

EDR’s conceptual site design for the Seneca Park Zoo Entry Plaza embraces the “Spirit of Place” by celebrating local and regional elements that portray Rochester, New York while enhancing the arrival experience to the zoo. The concept acknowledges Rochester’s past through subtle design elements, beginning with the Genesee River, the main thread woven through the local landscape. The river gorge tells a story of our local history through geological characteristics and fossils that record prehistoric times. The conceptual design integrates native stone materials and recognizes animals that once existed and roamed our region. Native plant materials will be integrated into the landscape design and respect the larger historic Seneca Park landscape, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. These design elements have been carefully selected and placed within the landscape to enhance the entry experience for all Seneca Park Zoo visitors.

The entry plaza may be the gateway for the Seneca Park Zoo, but the experience begins when arriving in the parking lot. Landscape islands create a defined edge for parking areas and anchor the central pedestrian walkway. These landscape islands showcase native plantings and accommodate wayfinding signage. The drop-off area extends the plaza entry and reaches out into the parking area to enhance the entry experience. Large deciduous shade trees will frame and complement the architecture while highlighting and embracing the entry plaza.