The Pepper Family Wildlife Center at Lincoln Park Zoo has been announced as the recipient of the 2022 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation and the winner of the Richard H. Driehaus Legacy Award. The renovation restored the original Arts & Crafts structure and returned the Guastavino tile-clad Great Hall to its original 1912 appearance. Guests now have immersive “nose-to-nose” viewing opportunities, including from the new Lion Loop, an elliptical sunken path in the center of the facility. The Pepper Family Wildlife Center is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Chicago landmark. The building bears the imprint of early 20th century zookeeping, in contrast with more than 100 years of innovation and improvements in the quality of care of the zoo’s animals.
Sitting at the heart of Lincoln Park Zoo, the 1912 lion house, designed by architect Dwight Perkins, has long been one of the zoo’s biggest attractions. Expectations for zookeepers and visitors have, however, changed in recent decades, and the zoo has focused on creating healthier and more sustainable animal habitats and improving experiences for all zoo guests.
Through a $41 million renovation, restoration and expansion, the new 54,000-square-foot Pepper Wildlife Center houses the zoo’s African lions, Canada lynx, red pandas and snow leopards. The feature lion habitat nearly doubled in size, with a design driven by behavior data collected by zoo researchers. The savanna-style habitat includes climbing features and embedded heating and cooling elements for climate control as well as new food zip lines, simulating prey, that provide enrichment opportunities for the zoo’s animals.
For the past 28 years, the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards program has honored individuals, organizations, projects and programs whose work demonstrate a commitment to historic preservation. For more information about the award winners and upcoming awards event, see the Landmarks Illinois website.