2022 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation & Winner of the Richard H. Driehaus Legacy Award
Sitting at the heart of Lincoln Park Zoo, the 1912 lion house, designed by architect Dwight Perkins, has long been one of the zoo’s biggest attractions. Expectations for zoo keepers and visitors have, however, changed in recent decades and the zoo has focused on creating healthier and more sustainable animal habitats and improving experiences for all zoo guests.
Through a $41 million renovation, restoration and expansion, the new 54,000-square-foot Pepper Wildlife Center houses the zoo’s African lions, Canada lynx, red pandas and snow leopards. The feature lion habitat nearly doubled in size, with a design driven by behavior data collected by zoo researchers. The savanna-style habitat includes climbing features and embedded heating and cooling elements for climate control as well as new food zip lines, simulating prey, that provide enrichment opportunities for the zoo’s animals.
The renovation restored the original Arts & Crafts structure and returned the Guastavino-tile clad Great Hall to its original 1912 appearance. Guests now have immersive “nose-to-nose” viewing opportunities, including from the new Lion Loop, an elliptical sunken path. The facility is also now fully accessible for all visitors. The Lincoln Park Zoo Pepper Family Wildlife Center is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Chicago local landmark.
(Photo credit: Tom Harris)