AKRON, Ohio - The Akron Zoo is proud to announce their new exhibit, the Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge, has won the Cleveland Engineering Society Design and Construction Award of Excellence. The Award of Excellence recognizes and honors Northeast Ohio projects that reflect excellence in design, engineering and construction.

The Cleveland Engineering Society Design and Construction Award of Excellence is among the premier recognitions awarded to members of the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction community. These awards are unique because they honor the three primary members of the building team: owners, designers and constructors—and recognize outstanding team achievement and innovative use of technology. The awards were conceived more than 50 years ago to encourage elevation of the standards of practice in the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction professions. The primary criteria the exhibit was judged on was overall design excellence including aesthetics, clarity, creativity, appropriate functionality, sustainability and building and engineering performance.

Grizzly Ridge opened July 20, 2013 and is the largest capital improvement in the zoo’s 61-year history. The exhibit includes bald eagles, a walk-in aviary, grizzly bears, river otters, red wolves and coyotes. The exhibit also features interactives such as a bird’s nest, which kids can play in, and a fully enclosed acrylic tube that kids can use to slide underwater through the otter exhibit.

The new exhibit sits right on the historic Portage Path, formed thousands of years ago as an animal migration route. The trail connected the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas Rivers and was approximately eight miles in length. Native Americans used this path to transport their canoes overland from one river to the other. Using canoes, Native Americans could travel by water from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico except for this small section. A bronze arrowhead marker in Grizzly Ridge identifies the path.

Green elements were incorporated into Grizzly Ridge including rain barrels, a green roof, pervious concrete, LED Lighting, a water reclamation pond, bio-retention filters and more. The project will be applying for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification and is projected to achieve silver status.

Grizzly Ridge encompasses approximately four of the zoo’s 52 acres. The $12.8 million dollar exhibit was primarily funded through levy proceeds along with the generous donation of many individuals, corporations and foundations. The exhibit was designed by Hasenstab Architects, constructed by Hammond Construction, THORSON BAKER & Associates, Inc., and Thomas & Marker Construction served as the Owners Representative.

The exhibit bears the names Mike and Mary Stark, after two of the zoo’s most ardent supporters and friends. Mike has been a zoo board member since 1994 and is the past Chairman of the Board.

For more information visit www.akronzoo.org or call (330) 375-2550.