Winner of the 1999 Honor Award for Excellence American Institute for Architects - Kentucky Chapter. 

The African Outpost Restaurant is an 11,000 S.F. multi-purpose facility located at the end of the African Savannah exhibit at the Louisville Zoo. The primary program components consist of a small gift shop, commercial kitchen, serving area, dining areas, staff offices, and public restrooms. 

To maintain the African village theme, the design includes natural thatch roofs with wide overhangs supported by heavy, timber eucalyptus poles and walls painted with tribal motifs. Three traditional African rondavel peaked-roof forms break up the scale and maintain the sensation of an African village.

The Boma animal contact area and the molerat/meerkat exhibits that have the same roofing materials further develop the context.

Arrasmith, Judd, Rapp provided design and construction administration services. 

Awards / Recognition: 

Honor Award for Excellence in Design
American Institute of Architects, Kentucky Chapter [1999

The Islands project incorporates the first ever multi-species rotational exhibit in the world. The special feature of the exhibit was developed for the first time at the Louisville Zoo. The primary benefits of this leading-edge design are as follows:

• The sequence of animal rotation simulates the way that these animals live in the wild and emulates the food chain inherent in the Indonesian wilderness.

• Rotating different animal species through the various habitats allows them to experience changing environments as well as stimulate the
animals’ interest.

• Changing the species in the various habitats provides the visitor with a new and different experience during each visit to the Zoo.

The architectural style of the viewing buildings creates an Indonesian village atmosphere, in keeping with the Island’s theme. The view buildings are organized around a common area to recreate the village environment. The heavy timber, cedar post and beam constructions are suggestive of the traditional framing techniques  incorporating rough-hewn logs gathered from the forest.

Glacier Run is a town on the edge of the wilderness. This story line is reinforced through a series of marine habitats for seals, sea lions, polar and grizzly bears emphasizing their fragile status that extends their range into  a nearby former mining town.

The program includes a 108,000 gallon seal and sea lion pool with demonstration area & amphitheater, bear pool and habitat, underwater viewing of both bears and seals / sea lions, overhead bear bridge linking two rotational habitats, view buildings, classroom and gift shop.

Awards / Recognition:

Winner of the 2010 American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Exhibit Award

The Gorilla Forest project houses 8-12 western lowland gorillas and two pigmy hippos exhibited in a series of indoor / outdoor habitats, within a 3-acre site. Eight buildings are strung along a meandering pathway for guests to view the animals from various vantage points along the way. Underwater hippo viewing and gorilla rotation through holding, indoor and outdoor facilities are featured.

Awards / Recognition:

Winner of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Highest Honor of the Year, the 2003 Exhibit Award


The project scope included a new Outdoor Bird Aviary and Bird Holding Building along with the following features:

  • Major modifications to the existing public pathway
  • Site improvements including extension of site utilities and regrading/tree removal as well new asphalt, fencing, and site lighting
  • Entry/Interpretive Building, built contiguous to the existing Australia Walkabout Interpretive building; (an addition to/renovation of the existing structure)
  • Covered Dining Area/Building
  • New Train Station
  • New children’s Playground Area due south of the existing Outback Oasis food service facility
  • Demolition of the existing railroad track and relocation/new construction of the railroad tracks in a new location
  • Construction of a new service road due south of the project site
  • Demolition of the existing outdoor dining area next to the Outback Oasis food service facility
  • Demolition of a portion of the existing Australian exhibit

Arrasmith, Judd, Rapp, Chovan, Inc. provided design/build architectural and engineering services in conjunction with zoological consultant CLR Design’s masterplan.


Located on a ½ acre site at the Louisville Zoo, the $4.5 million Leopard Leap Exhibit consists of two buildings and an exterior animal habitat enclosure. The main plaza and outdoor habitat are flanked by the new one-story education building and the two-story leopard holding/observation deck. The overall square footage of these three buildings is approximately 4,500 S.F.

The overall design consists of Himalayan-themed architecture that reflects the style of indigenous buildings one might find in Tibet or Bhutan. Steep rooflines made to look like stone, aged wood trim, themed plaster, and a rustic Tibetan entry canopy accentuate the architectural style. The education building consists of an entry area that leads to the main classroom for preschool children. Exposed wood trusses frame the double height classroom with rough plaster walls, wood trim, and themed decoupage furniture add to the overall feeling of being in the Tibetan mountains. A large picture window gives the students a clear view of the exterior habitat. A cave slide also has two view windows (one upper and one lower window in the cave under the slide) into the exterior yard to maximize the opportunity to see snow leopards.

The main leopard exhibit has artificial rockwork that was designed to reflect the Talus slopes of the Himalayan mountains. Various vantage points are achieved at different elevations; at grade from the plaza and education building and from the upper level in the observation deck. The exhibit has a woven cable mesh enclosure to minimize any significant obstruction to the visitor’s ability to see the animals. Two chilled rockwork areas (one in a cave-like enclosure and another in front of a large view window on the upper level of the observation deck) allow the animals multiple locations to cool off in the warmer months.

The observation deck is accessed by a ramp that has a rough-sawn wood slat barrier with rockwork posts to look like stacked stone cairns. The ramp directs visitors to either the existing Siberian tiger exhibit or to the new observation deck for the snow leopards. The interior of the observation deck has an exposed wood deck ceiling, wood trusses, and aged plaster walls. Themed painted Tibetan columns have a golden trim and stencil work applied to the columns and capitals. The animal holding area is below the observation deck, giving the snow leopards direct access to the exhibit. There is also an overhead trail that leads from the holding area to an elliptical path that runs above the main visitor path below. The trail is also adjacent to the ramp to allow visitors many vantage points to view the animals. The overhead trail drops down to the main path to a keeper training area to allow training sessions with the animals be viewed by the public.