BREC selects two firms for Greenwood, zoo master plans

    The BREC board of commissioners Wednesday selected the two firms it plans to hire to do the master plans for a reimagined Greenwood Park and the BREC Baton Rouge Zoo.

    Following the recommendations of its selection committees, the BREC board unanimously voted to retain Boston-based Sasaki to do the master plan for Greenwood Park, and New Orleans-based Torre Design Consortium for the zoo.

    “We’re excited about both teams,” says BREC Board Chairman Lloyd Benson II. “We were impressed with their energy, experience and ideas.”

    Sasaki, known for its design work on parks, recreational and urban spaces and university campuses around the world, was chosen from a short list of three teams that were originally among the eight that submitted proposals earlier this summer. It quoted a price of just under $500,000 to do its plan.

    Torre—which specializes in zoo design and, locally, is perhaps best known for its work on the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans—was one of just two teams that bid on the zoo project. Its proposed price is $250,000.

    Though pricey, both multi-component plans are ambitious and long term. The RFP for the zoo sought a multidisciplinary team to design a new, state-of-the art zoo with more interactive exhibits, face-to-face encounters and increased public engagement opportunities. The RFP also noted the consultants will be required to develop a strategic business plan for the zoo, as well as a long-term master plan that will include an immediate $5 million phase of improvements to assist in reestablishing AZA Accreditation.

    The zoo lost its coveted accreditation from the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums in March, just days after the BREC commission shot down a controversial plan by the BREC administration to relocate the zoo.

    The RFP for Greenwood, meanwhile, called for a three-phase overhaul of the park that includes a large, nature-based playground, recreation center, tournament athletic complex, horse trails, pedestrian and equestrian bridges, adventure areas, multi-use paths and a golf training facility.

    The RFP stressed the plan for Greenwood must also focus on how the park can be catalytic in developing and attracting new businesses that can contribute to economic development in north Baton Rouge.

    “These are excellent choices,” says BREC Commissioner Davis Rhorer. “Now it’s time to get moving on these projects and push forward.”

    Once contract negotiations are completed with the two firms, work will begin. BREC spokeswoman Cheryl Michelet says completed plans will likely be due in late summer 2019, and that specific timelines will be spelled out in the contracts.

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