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Saint Louis Zoo Capital Improvements

St. Louis, Missouri

A decade of sweeping upgrades and habitat additions for one of the nation’s top zoos



Key Services




Steel Fabrication

Strategic Partnerships

Delivery Method
Design-Build (DB)
90 acres

The challenge

Alberici served as construction manager for the Saint Louis Zoo’s nine-year capital improvement program based on its Master Plan for exhibits and amenities. We oversaw 16 major projects and a host of smaller construction efforts impacting nearly every portion of the zoo. The program featured animal exhibits, guest amenities, and infrastructure improvements to upgrade MEP and add pedestrian bridges and walkways. As construction manager, we worked closely with the Zoo to plan and phase each portion of the program to maximize value and minimize impact to park operations and visitor experiences.

Key Facts

Upgrades to eight major zoo attractions

Infrastructure upgrades

Challenge met

Alberici’s project team completed all projects between 2007 and 2017, impacting eight major attractions or guest amenities and substantially upgrading major infrastructure. We conducted all work while maintaining full access to zoo attractions and accommodating the unique safety requirements of the zoo’s animal residents. While reconstructing bear pits to create the new Grizzly Ridge, for example, we coordinated closely with keepers assigned to the nearby penguin exhibit in order to move penguins inside during operations that created dust.

Underwater encounter

The Sea Lion Sound, one project in the program, was constructed on 1.5 acres in the heart of the zoo. The project includes an outdoor sea lion basin, theater, and animal care area. The highlight of the exhibit is a 35-foot-long underwater viewing tunnel, where Zoo visitors can watch sea lions and seals swimming around them.

Creating a polar bear habitat in the Midwest

A highlight of the program was the new Polar Bear Point, a 40,000 SF exhibit space. Inspired by the polar bears’ natural habitat, the exhibit transitions seamlessly from sea to coastline to land. The interactive space includes a large glass viewing area, allowing visitors to see inside the 50,000-gallon dive pool.

Other projects within the program included: Sun Bears, Andean Bears and Painted Dog Habitat, Elephant Woods, Grizzly Ridge, Jungle of the Apes renovation, and South Arrival Experience.

Recent Projects

Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center at Missouri Botanical Garden

CITYPARK Stadium and Downtown West Campus

Saint Louis University Grand Hall Student Housing