Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “it’s all happening at the zoo,” and for generations of Chicagoans, that means their famous Lincoln Park Zoo. Founded in 1868, it’s one of the few institutions of its kind that does not charge admission and has long been a tradition in America’s Second City.
Today, The Lincoln Park Zoo has undergone a recent facelift, with visitors arriving at the west entrance being greeted by a new hardscape of StormPave permeable clay pavers by Pine Hall Brick Company. The design won a Silver Award in Paving/Landscaping in the recent Brick In Architecture competition, which was held by the Brick Industry Association, a national trade group.
Just beyond the entry, the Regenstein Macaque Forest and the Lionel Train Adventure is one of the newest—and at a cost of $15.5 million, one of the most ambitious—exhibits in the zoo’s history.
Part of that design is now calling for clay pavers as edge banding in main walkways throughout the 35-acre site, and clay paver plazas to draw attention to special exhibits, such as the Macaque Forest. Clay permeable pavers were specified here, because city ordinances now call for stormwater to be treated on site on larger projects within Chicago. The alternative of installing underground water tanks was cost-prohibitive.
The StormPave permeable clay pavers had several advantages, in that they were aesthetically beautiful, worked well with handicapped access and were durable enough to withstand both the harsh winters of Chicago and the weight of heavy vehicles, such as delivery trucks, fire engines and ambulances.
StormPave has historically done well in snowy climates in that water goes through the paver field into layers of aggregates underneath, does not pool up on the surface and therefore does not become ice. A snowfall in winter on clay pavers can be dealt with by using a deicer made of magnesium chloride and a rubber-tipped shovel or plow. The deicer melts the snow into water, which then goes around the voids in the pavers into the aggregates underneath and is then absorbed into the ground naturally. Magnesium chloride reduces the chance of efflorescence, which is a white, powdery substance on the surface of clay pavers, which must be removed in the following spring. Magnesium chloride must be used with caution because it can be harmful to surrounding cement.
Lincoln Park Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals. The zoo’s exhibits include big cats, polar bears, gorillas, reptiles, monkeys, and others. In all, 1,100 animals from some 200 species now reside in the zoo. One resident, a bear cub who came from the Philadelphia Zoo in the 1870s, was legendary, because he proved to be adept at escaping from the zoo and would often be found roaming around the neighborhood at night and startling the neighbors. One story has it that he was, indeed, the inspiration for the name of the Chicago Cubs.
Former zoo director Marlin Perkins, best known for hosting the popular Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television show, is credited with founding the Lincoln Park Zoological Society. In 1995, the Society assumed management of the zoo from the Chicago Park District, which remains the owner. Since the 1970s, the society has overseen a design transition from caged animals to naturalistic settings.