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Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Bird House redesign in Washington, DC

The Bird House project is a major renovation on the 95-year-old Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, which was redesigned to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. The new bird house features three main aviaries, each with its unique theme. 

Aviary 1 provides a backdrop of the stunning Delaware Bay for migratory birds, while Aviary 2 showcases the waterfowls of the prairie pothole region in the upper Midwest. The largest aviary, Aviary 3, transports visitors to a traditional rustic coffee farm in South America. 

A main highlight of this project was a 26-foot-tall Ficus Aurea. Weighing over a ton, it was dug up and acclimated in a shade house at a southeast Florida Nursery to prepare for its new home at the Bird House. With team members safely secured on the roof, crane operators, and installers inside all communicating effectively to slowly maneuver the tree through the small opening of the skylight the tree canopy cleared the opening without damaging any surfaces around it and keeping everyone safe. 

We were first approached by the General Contractor to submit a bid on this interior exhibit landscape. Because of the scale and complexity of this project, we enlisted our Design & Construction team to get involved. The successful collaboration across teams from design, construction, project management, installation, and ongoing maintenance provided an exceptional customer experience, exceeding all expectations. 

Project details

  • Client - Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
  • Sector - Institutions
  • Location - Washington, DC
  • Project Lead - Yuko Frazier
  • Project Team - Ambius Construction Development
  • District Name - Ambius Construction Development
  • Service - Design & Construction
  • Award Category - Atrium / Garden Plantings, Interior
  • Award Level - Platinum


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