Amazonia Exhibit and Gallery

Location: Washington, D.C.

Project type: museum

Client: National Zoological Park


  • riverbank Exhibits
  • galleries
  • conservatory
  • conference room

This 30,000-square-foot exhibit building consists of a tropical riverbank habitat and is the first major exhibit to open as part of the National Zoo's "Biopark" redevelopment for the display of animals, plants and culture. James P. Clark AIA and Michael Foster, FAIA, of MTFA Architecture were both involved in the design under the umbrella of the former firm Cooper-Lecky Architects.

The site was derived from an unsuccessful polar bear exhibit. To retain some of the financial investment of the site, the existing holding and storage areas were carefully incorporated into the new Amazonia exhibit building. The structure incorporates all the diverse aspects of the Amazonian culture including art, animals, plants and artifacts. The main feature of the facility is a 61,600-gallon "river" aquarium with a 28,244-gallon water basin that creates a habitat for the exhibit's 358 species of plants and 100 species of animals. The lower level consists of underwater viewing areas and a gallery space featuring interpretive micro exhibits on the biology of the Amazon River. The upper level is a re-creation of an Amazon forest. Since it's opening, the National Zoo has seen increased attendance to this popular exhibit.