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Blank Park Zoo: Discovery Zone

Location: Des Moines, IA
Job Description: 450,000 SF New Construction, Design/Build
Multi-Venue Complex
16,000 Gallon Coral Reef Exhibit
Contract Value: $1.5 Million
Awards: Mechanical First Place Award Project of the Year — 2001






Des Moines's Blank Park Zoo has a new exciting Intrepative Building Exhibit. This exhibit includes a path that starts at an authentic log cabin and leads you down a mountain with an ice formation and a snow lynx. The path will take you across a mountain stream with a wonderful view of a waterfall. You will end up in a steamy jungle where there are several pond exhibits including the Iowa Pond, the Caimen Pond, and the Amazon Pond. Here, there will also be rainstorms and fog. You can view jellyfish in a cylindrical tank as well as a salt water reef tank.


Proctor Mechanical was chosen to provide the mechanical expertise needed for this project which had a wide variety of mechanical systems and requirements. Some which were experimental.


"As the customer, the Blank Park Zoo required a design/build mechanical contractor that had demonstrated the ability to innovate. That's because the zoo's new 29,000 sq.-ft. Myron and Jackie Blank Discovery Center has to accommodate 12 of the earth's 15 climate zones, which demand consistent air and water temperatures and quality to support hundreds of species of plants and animals." (Contractor, April 2002).


The original design for this project was prepared by a Mechanical designer but ended up going over the budget. Proctor was then given the challenge of getting this project within budget. This challenge was accomplished by changing the building mechanical system and modifying many of the exhibit systems.


While many of Proctor Mechanical's sophisticated design/build jobs have been previously done in laboratories and hospitals, Proctor's work is now on public display at the zoo to thousands of visitor.


"Continuously throughout the project, Proctor Mechanical made design changes and altered construction methods to reach objectives for features that were, quite frankly, experimental. Their on-site technicians were courteous and industrious, and performed beyond expectations. They provided successful solutions and 're-worked' installations to insure owner satisfaction. It is obvious that all the people at Proctor Mechanical take great pride in the quality of their work." (David Allen, Zoo Director).

 Discovery Zone (PDF) – Read the fascinating journey and creative process involved in such a feat.

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