Kid’s Gift Shop
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Many zoo buildings serve to support exhibits or the day to day operations of the zoo itself and, appropriately, tend to be quiet, background buildings. As a gift store the Kids’ Shop is a destination in itself, requiring a more extroverted personality while still fitting into the naturalistic setting of the zoo. These potentially conflicting requirements suggested a dynamic, organic form. The building is biomorphic without being literal. Its tapered, sweeping volumes, suggested by the twisting motions of killer whales, at once reduce the visual mass of the building while softening its silhouette against the sky. Woods of different textures and detailing recall the trees overhead. Scale-like copper shingles cover roofs and clerestory. Over time, the colors have weathered to soft shades of red, green and gray found in nature. The curved ribs of the exposed wooden structure inside extend the metaphors of both the whale and the surrounding canopy of trees.