Vertix Builders recently completed the new penguin habitat at the Denver Zoo. It was a highly specialized construction project.

Designed by landscape architect Perry-Becker Design, Pinnacol African Penguin Point provides features that enhance the birds’ well-being and guest experience. This includes a 10,000-gallon pool for swimming, multiple burrows and nest boxes, and a variety of hardscape and natural sub-strates that mimic their Cape of Good Hope origins. Guests, meanwhile, benefit from an entirely new and improved experience thanks to underwater viewing areas and ample space to take in soon-to-come daily keeper talks and feedings.

“We feel very humbled to have been selected to work on behalf of the community,” said Ted Laszlo, vice president of Vertix Builders. “The penguin habitat required a new level of creativity and flexibility for the entire team to ensure we came up with the best exhibit experience for visitors and best environment for the birds. Unlike a traditional commercial building, exhibits are singularly unique and the designers, contractors, and zoo staff had to work closely to develop a vision and then execute to bring it to life.”

Much had to be considered, including viewing areas and platforms, the size, shape, and color of the faux rocks that would be created by exhibit specialists Colorado Hardscapes; the amount of water and sand; the footprint and undulation of the terrain; water and air temperature throughout the exhibit – essentially providing shy penguins with a place they could happily return to if they didn't want to be viewed. The team also had to learn how to create waves to enhance the lives of penguins in their pool as well as provide interest to the public.

The list was long and the budget was tight, but not only were all of the considerations and challenges addressed, they were achieved through thoughtfulness and creativity.