Houston Zoo – Back of House Masterplan


The Houston Zoo’s Back-of-House comprises approximately 8-acres of the total 55-acres that make the second most-attended Zoo in the United States. This Masterplan was laid-out to prepare the Zoo’s staff for the next 50-years of activity, growth, conservation, and education. It is the basis for the design for the Zoo’s future needs, buildings, operational patterns, vehicular traffic flow, and pedestrian circulation pathways.

Prior to designing and phasing the masterplan, our firm analyzed not only how the existing structures perform as buildings, but also how they fare as places to work. In connection with ongoing improvements associated with the Zoo’s upcoming Centennial, many departments anticipate fundamental operational changes. Our firm discussed the overall goals with selected zoo staff. By carefully listening to how the Zoo operates and where there could be improvements, it was determined that some of the existing facilities and traffic patterns worked against basic operational efficiencies.

The strategy proposed through this masterplan focuses on the Zoo’s priorities that will enable it to move forward with its anticipated growth in visitors while also being fiscally responsible in this growth. The resulting masterplan offers big-picture ideas of how to optimize the available, and this soon-to-be-reduced vital area of the new Houston Zoo.