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San Diego Zoo’s Denny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp

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  Public Architecture

Imagine being a child scrambling across a rope net only to look over and be eye to eye with a squirrel monkey eating an apple slice. A whole new world awaits as you pass under the trellis with giant leaf cutter ants at the recently completed San Diego Zoo’s Denny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.

The three-acre site features twelve exhibit buildings interconnected by a series of playful pathways. The site is a multi-ecosystem experience with landscapes and wildlife curated to represent four distinct habitats from Desert Dunes where you can scramble up boulders like the fennec foxes to the Wild Woods where you can clamor across a rope bridge over to ancient oak tree. Buildings are clad in colorful metal roof panels that blend into the organic nature of the landscape and create a playful backdrop. Carefully designed curvilinear steel and mesh enclosures lightly touch the ground aiming to break down the perceived separation between animals and visitors.

The Basecamp provides a place of exploration and reflection for kids and adults alike fostering empathy for wildlife. It is an iconic project for San Diego and beyond that will serve many generations to come.

2920 Zoo Drive

Project Owner/Developer:
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Contact Name/Email:
Eamonn Farrell, efarrell@sdzwa.org

Project Architect/Designer:
HGW Architecture

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  1. Midory Esquer

    Amazing job to the HGW team!!! This looks amazing and it is super fun to experience it with the little ones!!

  2. Ramon

    Beautiful work and impressive lighting.

  3. Robert Johnson

    I tried to add a “Like” thumbs up but it wouldn’t take it. Must be broken.

  4. Megan Jewell

    Basecamp is the perfect example of how beautiful architecture and thoughtful design can impact how one interacts with their environment. Grateful for this contribution to our city and for all the families who visit!


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