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National Aviary Marks Expansion Progress With Topping Off Ceremony

On May 19, 2010,  The National Aviary will mark the progress of its $18.5 million expansion and renovation with a topping off ceremony and raising of the project’s final steel beam.

This phase of the project includes construction of the Helen M. Schmidt FliteZoneTM Theater for live bird presentations, films and educational programming; the creation of new facades and grand entrance along Arch Street; a new Café with indoor and outdoor seating; an open-air rooftop Sky Deck for raptor lure-flying demonstrations and special events; and a new education classroom. Significant renovations to the existing facility are also taking place.

The Aviary’s expansion and renovation are a project of Springboard Design of Pittsburgh and New York, and are being done with the goal of achieving LEED certification for green design. Work is expected to be completed in September 2010.

“The FliteZone Theater will be the nation’s first indoor educational theater designed to incorporate free-flight bird demonstrations as a critical part of conservation education programming,” says Patrick Mangus, executive director of the National Aviary. “Conservation-focused classes and presentations will be designed to help educate visitors about individual bird species, and about the importance of wildlife, biodiversity and the preservation of natural habitats.

In addition to meeting LEED green building criteria, the project is also being developed as a model for bird-friendly design standards.

“Millions of birds die each year from collisions with glass windows, lobbies and entrance spaces because flying birds read windows as small as 12 inches as an open void, and will attempt to fly through,” says Paul Rosenblatt, founding principal, Springboard Design. ”The National Aviary expansion will employ extensive use of fritted glass, a material that employs a barely visible dot pattern. Fritted glass admits light in, while appearing opaque enough from the exterior for birds to recognize the glass as a surface, not a transparent space. The facility’s airy new entry will demonstrate that it is possible to create light-filled spaces that are also bird-friendly.”