Woodland Park Zoo
West Entry

Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo

8,400 sf buildings
112,500 sf plazas and site improvements


  • WPZ West Entry with Public Courtyard
  • WPZ West Entry Ticketing
  • WPZ West Entry and signage
  • WPZ West Entry Assistance Counter
  • WPZ West Entry Store Interiors
  • WPZ West Entry courtyard
  • WPZ West Entry
  • West Entry Exterior

The Woodland Park Zoo’s new west entry consolidates and replaces two older entries. Today, it provides visitors with a generous transition from the busy city to the zoo’s tranquil grounds and exhibits.

A gateway plaza outside the secure perimeter of the zoo functions as a community open-space. It allows patrons to meet one another and to purchase tickets before entering the zoo. A ticketing and membership services pavilion defines the southern edge of this plaza.

A pergola-type structure with sliding gates marks the entry threshold to the zoo and leads to an “orientation plaza”. Functioning as one of the three major hubs along the zoo’s main loop path, this plaza provides an opportunity for visitors to gather their bearings. The visitor services pavilion defines the eastern edge of this plaza. A large, transparent Zoo Store activates the north edge of the orientation plaza. Intended to attract departing visitors, the retail space (a major economic driver) is also accessible from the exterior gateway plaza.

The sequence of open spaces and structures is intended to be contemporary, efficient, and thematically neutral by comparison to the zoo’s themed exhibits. Visitors encounter the plazas, the location of services is logical, and the procession from purchasing tickets to entering the zoo is intuitive.

Photography: © Lara Swimmer Photography