The Calgary Zoo raised the curtain on Monday, May 7 on its highly anticipated Panda Passage exhibit. The giant furry family of four came from the Toronto Zoo as part of a ten-year agreement between the two zoos and the Chinese government and will call Calgary home for the next several years.

As structural engineer consultants, RJC played a critical role in the design and construction of the Passage exhibit. The zoo underwent vast improvements in upgrading the old Elephant Crossing to accommodate the four pandas in this state-of-the-art facility. Developing a space that focused around the health and wellbeing of the pandas was one of the most critical considerations for the Client. To ensure this goal was met, RJC’s building science and restoration team installed two ethylene tetrafluoroethylene film (ETFE) skylights to the new enclosure, providing protection from the extreme and unpredictable Calgary weather, while still allowing for a large amount of natural light. The transmission of natural UV light is essential to the overall comfort and health of the panda’s in Alberta’s cold climate and is instrumental in the growth of bamboo, their main source of food, within the space.

As environmental stewards of sustainability in the construction industry, RJC was honoured to make an in-kind donation of five metric tons, worth $8,000, of glulam timber beams to the habitat. The beams hold a special significance in that they were originally salvaged from the Calgary Zoo’s 1966 Elephant and Giraffe House. We are proud that the beams made such an impact towards our Client’s ambitious goal for the Living Building Challenge – the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard of buildings today. Donating these non-toxic and ecologically restorative materials fully supports and promotes RJC’s sustainability mandate.

RJC is thrilled see the pandas enjoying their new home and grateful for our project team’s involvement in such a unique and exciting exhibit for the Calgary Zoo.