National Zoo

  • Duration: 2 years

  • Location: Washington, DC

  • Agency/Customer: Smithsonian Institution/National Zoo

HSU was the prime contractor on this series of projects carried out by the National Zoo.  These projects involved mainly fire suppression system installations and utilities permitting, demolition, sitework, installation of highly technical equipment, and complex scheduling issues to accommodate the public traffic and nature of the National Zoo, as well as many animal-specific concerns.

The project was uniquely challenging for the following reasons:

  • Public nature of site location: due to the construction being located in one of the most highly visited tourist attractions in the country, the job site presented daily challenges of high security, cleanliness of job site, and safety of all work performed.

  • Complex scheduling issues: in the Great Ape House, for example, a new wet pipe sprinkler system and fire alarm system was installed throughout the building, which included the public areas, keeper areas, and animal areas. Scheduling and phasing of the project became complicated as the animals had to be shifted to other areas, and the cages sanitized each day before work could begin. At the Think Tank, and exterior water line needed to feed the new fire protection system; installation of it was broken into phases so that Olmstead Walk remained open throughout construction.

  • Coordination of trades: while the primary purpose for this series of projects was the upgrade of life safety systems, HSU also performed other work in the scope of its contract including: modernization of architectural features, finishes, lighting in the lobbies and conference rooms (Lion & Tiger House), exterior site work, including new concrete, asphalt, and pavers, to restore the public access areas to pre-construction conditions.

  • HSU's Flexibility: In addition to the scheduling concerns, HSU was able to adapt quickly to other animal-specific challenges as they arose. When it was discovered that the animals were using implements to damage newly-installed sprinkler heads, HSU worked with the subcontractor to make special modifications during the course of the project.