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The project that I am proposing to accomplish would be to design a Panda Exhibit located at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE. John Armknecht from Stanley How Architects in Omaha has been contacted for consultation and mentoring purposes since their firm handles the Zoo’s designs. Previously he has also helped another student with his thesis design for the expansion of the Gorilla Complex, and he said he would be glad to help out again. Work has preliminarily begun on the panda design by their firm; however, only the site location has been decided. Over the summer I would meet with him and/or zoo representatives and be able to get specific input on the site location as well as goals for the overall display. Bill Borner will help by mentoring my project because of his previous involvement with the similar mentioned project where he worked with the zoo and communicated with John Armknecht. This project interests me because of the potential it contains for increasing awareness about depleting animal species throughout the globe and the ability to spark change in the public today. The panda species is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the harm humans can cause because of their precise diets. The panda relies primarily on the bamboo plant for survival, and with humans invading the bamboo forests pandas face a hard time ahead for continued existence. The children especially have a huge responsibility as they grow to save regions of the earth as well as the species of plants and animals that inhabit those areas. This exhibit, although special merely because of the rarity of the animal, could educate why the pandas are so rare and what needs to be done to prevent extinction. The display could be more than pure entertainment for the observers. An emotional and empathetic response could be created through the procession and how the audience experiences the space so that an accepted feeling of responsibility could be evoked. The easily lovable animal could ignite sympathy with the observers, creating a will to change current destructive actions. This could inspire small changes with a far reaching goal of saving this species and those in trouble like it. I am interested in creating this because I believe all architecture has a responsibility and/or potential to evoke thoughts and opinions, and this ecological theme by example of the endangered species of pandas could easily live up to this duty, and be so much more than a mere fi ve minute walk through of passing amusement. Another interesting aspect to my project is the issue of the client. For although the Henry Doorly Zoo is the overall client; specifically it is the panda and the observers who I must design for. When designing for humans the wants of the client are a little easier to understand because they can simply be voiced. However, designing for animals could be more difficult and a better understanding about the process of listening can be learned. Opinions and thoughts of selected experts must be heard and taken it to consideration, which actually gives more voices to the needs and wants of the project. Rather than one individual deciding what is needed, it is best to get feed-back from many. Also, one observer might voice an opinion on the design of the display but another might completely disagree with that. So again it is best to hear many thoughts that way a general consensus can be reached. I think by designing for the public as well as a non-human client can improve my awareness about the listening process and the relationships that must exist between both.
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