Special Events Space Meets Sustainability Goals

The Bicentennial Pavilion houses 11 canopies that feature 12,770 square feet of the U-Lite low-slope canopy system.

The Bicentennial Pavilion houses 11 canopies that feature 12,770 square feet of the U-Lite low-slope canopy system.

When the Lilly Endowment granted the Indianapolis Zoo $10 million in 2015, it came with a couple conditions. The grant needed to benefit the zoo’s long-term sustainability goals and it had to create a standalone feature to attract and engage visitors that could be transformed for special events. Zoo representatives reached out to RATIO Architects, Indianapolis, to create the Bicentennial Pavilion and Promenade, an open-air special events space that embodies sustainability in every aspect of its design.

It was vital for the pavilion to function year-round for concerts, picnics and more, as well as be a centerpiece for the zoo to aid in visitor circulation. The pavilion, which opened in spring 2017, houses 11 canopies that feature 12,770 square feet of the U-Lite low-slope canopy system.

The canopies vary in height to increase air circulation along the promenade and are comprised mainly of natural material to resemble a lush rainforest. Each canopy utilizes a combination of clear and ice-white glazing panels to provide a balance of diffused and direct light to the ground below to benefit patrons and existing plant life.

Zoo representatives wanted a system that would properly filter rainwater through to the ground rather than to the sewage system. While reviewing different products, RATIO Architects found this to be a challenge given the limitations of other systems. “The other companies we spoke to weren’t able to achieve the types of goals we had,” explains Andrew Heilman of RATIO Architects.

Each canopy utilizes a combination of clear and ice-white glazing panels to provide a balance of diffused and direct light to the ground below.

Each canopy utilizes a combination of clear and ice-white glazing panels to provide a balance of diffused and direct light to the ground below.


RATIO Architects’ solution relied on the U-Lite system’s ability to effectively channel water to the drainage system where it would then be collected from the individual pods by the weathered steel structure and moved to the plant life below the canopies. “Because the design of the panel is turned up at the end on all four sides of each pod, there are no moisture problems and water can efficiently drain,” Heilman notes. “The edge detail of the polycarbonate was a huge detail that other companies just couldn’t accommodate.”

All pathways within the zoo connect to the pavilion’s central placement, making it well-suited for an improved natural flow through the zoo. “The previous layout was essentially a maze that was confusing for visitors,” Heilman adds. “This structure has cleaned up the circulation space around the zoo by making more accessible paths that all tie together; now when you visit, it’s practically a guarantee that you’ll visit the pavilion at some point.”

Materials

LOW-SLOPE CANOPY SYSTEM: Kingspan Light + Air

Photos: Kingspan Light + Air

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