SNZP New Seal & Sea Lion Exhibit, Life Support Building

This project is the largest exhibit on the American Trail at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. The American Trail winds down from the Elephant Outpost on Asia Trail, curving down through the Otter, Beaver, Wolf, and Bald Eagle exhibits before widening out at the Seal and Sea Lion exhibit, and finally exiting down to the Amazonia exhibit and Rock Creek.

McMullan provided services over an 11-year period, beginning with pre-design surveys and study, through design and construction document preparation, all the way to final construction for the expansion and renovation for the 90,000 SF reconstruction of this exhibit and the rest of the American Trail. Our work included structural design for new salt water exhibit and holding pools, site walls, visitor and animal barriers, supports for shade structures, a food service building, bridges, amphitheater stands, an underwater viewing area, and the renovation and expansion of the existing life support system building.

Washington, DC

Smithsonian Institution

Quinn Evans Architects

General Contractor
Forrester Construction


  • Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Built by Women Award
  • AIA|DC Presidential Citation for Universal Design
  • WBC Craftsmanship Awards for Special Concrete Finishes and Cast-in-Place Concrete