TORONTO – A unique, state-of-the-art animal healthcare and research centre has opened at the Toronto Zoo. The approximately 50,000-square-foot facility designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in partnership with DesignLevel Inc., will raise awareness of the zoo’s work in wildlife health, nutrition, and reproductive and conservation research.
The two-storey infill within the existing operations complex, adds, for the first time, a public component – a front-of-house viewing gallery that puts treatment, surgery and clinical lab procedures on display, making Windows of Wildlife Science the only one of it kind in Canada.
“This facility is designed to be a welcoming, public building and has a two-storey curtain-walled facade in the Public Viewing Gallery,” said Jon Soules, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. Interpretive displays stand next to picture windows into the following rooms: Diagnostic Imaging, Treatment, Surgery, Clinical Lab and Endocrinology Lab.
“We are very excited and proud to be able to provide our guests with the opportunity to see firsthand some of this great work that has historically taken place behind-the-scenes,” said Dr. Chris Dutton, Head of Veterinary Services, Toronto Zoo.
There are over 5,000 animals representing 490 different species at the Toronto Zoo, and the Wildlife Health Centre needs to be able to deliver care to all of them. Prior to the expansion, zoo veterinarians had to perform many medical interventions in situ in animal holdings. The expanded health and research services at this animal hospital include holding areas; a surgical suite, radiology and intensive care unit; clinical, endocrinology, gamete, assay and necropsy laboratories; veterinary staff, research, student and technologist offices; a receiving area with storage; a conference room and the public gallery.
Other design considerations for a patient profile that could range from a small mollusk to a polar bear include durable and hygienic materials and finishes, load bearing walls in the holding spaces, a ceiling-mounted rail and hoist system to move patients weighing hundreds of kilograms, and a robust ventilation system. “The animal care areas require 100 percent fresh air supply with no return air so as not to circulate contaminants through ventilation,” said Soules. Additionally, surgical and treatment areas need dedicated supply air with high air change requirements and filtration, much like a regular hospital operating room.
Patients in the zoo’s care will benefit from having access to plenty of daylight provided by clerestory windows as well as an outdoor pen. Administrative rooms and labs on the second floor have views into ground floor treatment rooms. Sustainable design features include an extensive green roof, insulated foundation walls, low flow fixtures, LED lighting, and heat recovery systems.
“Creating a state-of-the-art animal healthcare facility is at the heart of our expanded vision and will position the Toronto Zoo as a world leader in wildlife care and conservation,” said John Tracogna, CEO, Toronto Zoo.
Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is based in Toronto. Informed by urbanism, driven by design, the firm’s portfolio includes work for the healthcare sector, including life science facilities, research laboratories and hospitals. Equally extensive are designs completed for the performing arts sector, institutional, residential and commercial buildings and academic facilities. Projects include the newly opened Peel Memorial Hospital in Brampton, Ontario and a 300,000 square foot addition to Medicine Hat Regional Hospital in Alberta. The firm is also designing the new David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.