Tacoma architects chosen for Point Defiance projects

McGranahan Architects will design the new visitor entry and more to the zoo.

McGranahan Architects of Tacoma have been selected to design a major redevelopment project at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

The firm will design the new visitor entry, restaurant, antique carousel pavilion, retail space and administrative offices for the zoo.

Tacoma Metro Parks Commissioners approved a $625,641 contract with McGranahan Architects on Monday.

This project is a key part of the $35 million expansion and renovation under way at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

“Visitors will notice these improvements from the minute they step onto the zoo grounds,” said zoo Deputy Director John Huock in a press release. “They will enhance visitor access, food, ticketing and the educational experience.”

The $6.38 million project total includes $1.2 million from the nonprofit Point Defiance Zoological Society for the antique carousel.

Members of the Washington Antique Carousel Society will be carving the horses and other animals for the carousel.

McGranahan Architects was founded in the late 1960s and has designed numerous projects in the Tacoma area, including:

– entry gates, signs, retail outlets and walkways for the Puyallup Fair;

– cafe and bookstore at the University of Puget Sound;

– a remodel of the Bone-Dry Shoe Building for McGranahan’s own offices in downtown Tacoma;

– the Tacoma Rhodes Center;

– the Sprague Building for United Way;

– Regence Blue Shield Office Building; and

– the latest projects for the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

“We wanted this project because we thought it would be the most exciting and transformative for the zoo itself – the visitor experience starts at the gate,” said Bob Bonnett, a principal in the design firm, in a press statement.

He continued: “We really thought we could bring our thinking to bear on this important development at the zoo.”

The design for this project is expected to be complete by spring 2003, at which time the zoo will seek bids from contractors, Cox said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2003, she said, with the project expected to be completed by summer 2004.

This latest project is just one of many planned or under way at Point Defiance, including a new Asia Forest Sanctuary exhibit, a new amphitheater with covered seating, a children’s zone, new signage and pathways, and an animal hospital.

So far, construction at Point Defiance doesn’t seem to be affecting attendance, Cox said, noting most construction is taking place around the perimeter of the zoo.

Next month, workers will start on-site grating around the new amphitheater, she said.

Construction next year will be more visible, Cox indicated, and the zoo is considering ways to minimize its effects.

“We’re looking at ways to mitigate that, and make it a fun experience,” she explained.

The projects are being funded by a $35 million bond issue approved by Tacoma voters in 1999.

The last of the construction projects is expected to be completed in time for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s one-hundredth anniversary in 2005.

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