‘Nature’s Neighborhoods’ is a series of landscapes that combine habitats for animals with nature-based play for children. Four environments are included: woodlands, grasslands, thicket and wetlands. Neighborhoods provide settings for play inspired by qualities unique to each while giving kids opportunities to observe and learn about the animals that share those habitats. The Woodlands neighborhood includes a large forested habitat for red panda and muntjac, nearby bamboo climbers allow kids to see into the habitat from above. The grasslands neighborhood includes a large habitat shared by two prairie dog groups. A digging substrate allows the critters to tunnel deep beneath the entire surface and seek protection below frost in winter. Nearby a crawl-in burrow and grass maze introduce kids to the sounds and smells of the prairie. In the wetlands neighborhood, a large walk-through aviary has red-breasted goose, red-crowned crane, Baikal duck, Cabot’s tragopan, azure-winged magpie, scaly-sided merganser, bufflehead and spectacled eider. The wetland inside the aviary extends outside to create ponds for two species of local turtles: spotted and Blanding’s.
Coyle & Caron was responsible for the site design and integration of all elements into the overall plan and specifically: habitat design, animal enrichment and containment, off-exhibit areas, and visitor landscapes. Collaborators include: Cambridge Seven Associates (architectural planning and design, project management), Main Street Design (interpretive planning and design, play areas, and interactives), Ursa International (concept planning), Weidlinger Associates (structural), Nitsch Engineering (civil), RW Sullivan (MEP), and PCA Global (life support systems).