ELM completes Bramble Park Zoo master plan
The new master plan builds stronger ties with the regional conservation community and guides growth for next 15 to 20 years
ELM, a Seattle, Washington, and Jacksonville, Florida, based design and planning firm, completed the Bramble Park Zoo's master plan that strategically integrates the zoo's four newly acquired acres into the overall site and positions the zoo as a strong regional destination.
Two principals of the ELM firm conducted the entire master planning process onsite in Watertown, South Dakota, in collaboration with the leaders of the zoo team, members of the zoo board, and the city. The new master plan guides the evolution of the zoo, which has a total of 19 acres including the four newly acquired acres, along with 800 animals representing 150 different species. With the master plan complete, the first two projects, estimated at $1.8 million, are in the final stages of design with construction set to begin in June.
“During our onsite planning sessions, we kept the doors wide open to ensure the zoo staff, zoo board, city leaders, and even visitors had input throughout the process. We did all the work there in front of the client,” said Christopher Overdorf, principal with ELM. “We developed a master plan that was shaped by a collaborative effort with direct input – from the zoo team to local conservation groups to the Mayor and even school children who were visiting the zoo. The children's input was priceless as they openly shared their thoughts on what would be boring or fantastic.”
The first two projects that the master plan outlines are the development of a new walk-through otter habitat and a children's family fun farm. The new master plan will improve operational efficiencies; support a fun, engaging experience for its visitors; and expand how the Bramble Park Zoo communicates their conservation education messages. For example, the design team partnered with the local technical institute to build a wind turbine scaled for the site, incorporating the long history of wind power utilized by local farmers. As a result, the icon of the children's zone will be a 130-year-old windmill donated by a local farmer.
ELM is a leading Environmental Design practice that creates sustainable, inspired places for people. The firm's leadership,