San Diego Zoo "Africa Rocks" Exhibit Earns Local Design Award

San Diego’s 42nd annual Orchids and Onions Awards Program, a competition which grants accolades for both good design (Orchids) and what judges deem poor design (Onions), took place earlier this month. Presented by the San Diego Architectural Foundation, the program brings locals together to determine and celebrate which aspects of the built environment (buildings, parks, public art, etc.) improve the quality of life for San Diegans and visitors alike.

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Africa Rocks, an exhibit that opened last year at the San Diego Zoo, won an Orchid award for good design. Designed by ELM in conjunction with Seattle and San Diego-based design firm Miller Hull and Quince Farm Studio, Africa Rocks was the only project to receive an award in the Landscape Architecture category.

Quoted in an article from the San Diego Tribune, juror J.T. Barr said, “every detail of the exhibit seemed to have been thought out, down to the pavement meant to mimic a cracked desert. It was a beautifully choreographed landscape…it was something that was truly immersive.”

The exhibit was build on an existing 8-acre site at the San Diego Zoo, and was designed as an interpretation of the diverse biomes that exist on the African continent—the exhibit is home to 42 species, from sharks to penguins to monkeys.

Visit our Africa Rocks project page or the Africa Rocks website to learn more about the design!

Erin Weinberg