The Education Center - Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange, New Jersey

The new 12,000 square foot Education Center at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, New Jersey was built in direct response to the growing popularity of this major New Jersey tourist and recreation facility which features more than 700 species of animals, a train ride, carousel, a playground and nearby paddle boats. It also features a miniature golf course replicating three African regions--the Sahara Desert, the African Grasslands, and the Congo located to the center is Mount Kilamanjave.

According to the new education center’s designers, USA Architects of Newark, New Jersey, the new facility serves as a safer and more efficient alternative entrance into the park for students and visitors.  The project includes a welcoming lobby, four expandable classrooms that have the ability to form into one large instructional / event space, as well as animal holding rooms and support spaces. The building also features new ticket windows offering visitors a convenient secondary entrance and a gift shop.

In order to minimize the impact to the site and complement the building design, the project is designed to take advantage of half of the roof top space through the creation of a large outdoor plaza with views of the reconstructed TreeTop Adventure Course, which serves as an outdoor classroom / event space designed to accommodate 150 people. The other half is a 7,000 square foot curved standing seam roof made of Englert 2000 Series striated aluminum panels. The three-coat custom slate gray panels continue down one side of the structure functioning as wall panels around a series of large mullioned windows. According to the fabricator of the metal roof and wall panels, Ray Ayerbe of Tri-State Metals in Elmsford, New York, the biggest challenge was fabricating and installing the metal around the mullioned windows so the glass panes could be removed if necessary. ADPI of Avenel, New Jersey worked with Tri-State to provide the custom metal panels. Patwood Roofing of New Jersey installed the panels.

According to USA Architects, sustainable design elements including waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, recycled content plus regionally sourced materials, its UltraCool, LEED compliant standing seam roof and wall panels, an energy efficient HVAC system, and LED lighting.

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