3. Bronx Zoo Lion House

Image Courtesy of FXCollaborative

Standing stately on a hill in the northwest section of the Bronx Zoo, the Lion House is the largest and most elaborately decorated of the six buildings that make up the zoo’s historic Astor Court. The Lion House was originally constructed in 1903 and designed by the architects Heins & La Farge. The building is covered in Roman ironspot brick and terracotta ornaments with marble sentinel lion sculptures all designed or carved by Eli Harvey, an American sculptor and who specialized in depicting large feline animals. The Lion House, along with the Primates’ House, the Large Bird House, the original Sea Lion Pool, the Elephant House, and the Administration Building were all given landmark status in 2000.

The landmark status presented unique challenges to the team at FXCollaborative when they were tasked with renovating the Lion House in the early 2000s to accomodate a new immersive exhibit on Madagascar. The firm had to create new and modern spaces while retaining the structure’s historic features. New space was added by expanding vertically and reconfiguring the layout of existing spaces. After the firm added new sustainable technologies like a greywater recycling system and geothermal walls during the renovation, the Lion House became the first designated landmark in New York State to achieve LEED certification.