Indianapolis Zoo’s Bicentennial Pavilion and Promenade


Indianapolis Zoo

Ratio Architects


Indianapolis, IN

CEC Services

  • ADA Accessibility Analysis
  • Erosion & Sedimentation Control/NPDES Permitting
  • Predevelopment Site Investigations
  • Site Grading/Earthwork Analysis
  • Stormwater Management/BMP Design
  • Sustainability Planning/Design
  • Utility Design
  • As-built Surveys
  • Boundary Retracement Surveys
  • Topographic Surveys

Owner Objective

The Indianapolis Zoo is a not-for-profit organization located on approximately 64 acres near downtown Indianapolis on the west side of the White River. The zoo obtained a $10 million grant from the Lily Endowment to complete the Bicentennial Pavilion and Promenade, which would provide 40,000 square feet of weather-protected space for up to 1,000 seated guests. The zoo planned to host concerts, picnics, and private events at the open-air facility. Its newest bird exhibition, Magnificent Macaws, allows birds to fly across the zoo to a perch at the exhibit during presentations.

CEC Approach

CEC provided surveying and civil engineering services for the project, and worked collaboratively with Ratio Architects to complete a highly unique and specialized facility for the zoo. CEC developed a creative approach to percolate runoff into the soil in an underground detention chamber and provide water quality treatment. The site was previously developed, so the team identified and accommodated existing utilities in the area.

One hundred percent of on-site rainwater is collected and percolated into an aquifer. When rainwater contacts the Pavilion’s canopy, it is funneled into 35-foot-tall wooden shade structures and travels down rain screens created from custom-designed weathered steel to a sunken, plant-filled bed. From there, the water travels through a water quality unit and into a 14-foot-deep water detention bed of free-draining stones, designed to accommodate 100-year flood events. Each bed has water intake pipes that are raised above grade to encourage natural percolation through the soil. Each bed also contains plants that can thrive in saturated environments.

The project has been highly successful and well received by the public. It won the Construction Award and the Landscape Architecture Award at the 2017 Indianapolis Monumental Awards.