A Big Addition for Little Visitors
Dr. Schroeder had seen children’s zoos elsewhere in the world, and he noted how popular they were and how much they could offer younger visitors. He resolved to build one at the San Diego Zoo. He assembled a team of young, creative, and enthusiastic designers and worked with them to create a dynamic, modern, and innovative place for kids—and kids at heart—to discover animals. The design team included Lloyd and Ilse Ruocoo, John Dirks, J. Swiggett, B. Wand, Gilbert Watrous, William “Bill” Noonan (who would later become the Zoo’s graphic designer), and Charles “Chuck” Faust, the Zoo’s designer, who led most of the design concepts for the Children’s Zoo.
Everything was built at child level. Exhibit walls were kept to 25 inches in height, providing unobstructed views for the pint-sized. Children could even look the server at the refreshment counter in the eye as they placed an order, because behind the counter, the floor was placed below ground level. Parents had to stoop low to go through doors, and drinking fountains were at child level. Chuck Faust shared some of his design inspiration by saying, “Spend a part of each day on your knees and you will gain some idea of how a four-year-old looks at the world around him.”