Como Park Polar Bear Exhibit

The new Como Polar Bear Exhibit complies with the Manitoba Conservation requirements with a 3,200 square foot indoor facility and over 13,000 square feet of outdoor space with native plantings, a saltwater pool, and rock outcroppings that mimic a Hudson Bay ecosystem.

Location: St. Paul, MN
Client: CLR Design
Services: Structural, Civil
Construction Materials: Masonry, Cast-in-Place Concrete, Structural Steel, Wood, Precast Concrete
Civil Services: Grading and Drainage Design, Land Development, Site Demolition, Roadway Design, SWPPP, Stormwater Management, Utility Design

BKBM’s structural services included designing several structures for the new exhibit.  These included the outpost building, the lodge building, a concession stand, an entry canopy for the existing marine mammal building, a new filtration building, and fencing for the perimeter of the polar bear habitat.  The outpost building contained the visitor viewing area for the new polar bear exhibits as well as holding areas for the bears and was comprised of concrete walls and precast concrete roof plank. 


The lodge building contained a multi-purpose room and public restrooms and was comprised of CMU bearing walls with sloped roofs.  The roof over the restroom area utilized wood roof trusses with SIPS roof panels and the roof over the multi-purpose room utilized steel beams with SIPS roof panels.  The new filtration building was comprised of concrete walls with a precast concrete roof plank and included concrete retaining walls to resist the unbalanced soil loads on the structure.

BKBM's civil design included providing sanitary sewer, water, and storm sewer utilities to the new exhibit through the reconstruction of 600-feet of Kaufman Drive.  Storm water runoff from the area surrounding the exhibit was rerouted to a new infiltration pond located adjacent to Como Golf Course's seventh fairway. 


The new infiltration pond provides rate control, volume reduction, and storm water quality that meets both the City of St. Paul's and Capitol Region Watershed's requirements.  In exchange for using a portion of the golf course for the zoo's storm water management, BKBM also designed a new storm sewer system for the golf course that aids in drainage of the seventh fairway back to Lake Como. 


Stormwater runoff within the bear exhibit is routed independently and is stored onsite in a buried tank and allowed to slowly drain into the sanitary sewer where it enters a new sanitary sewer lift station and is pumped into the campus gravity sanitary sewer. 


Over 400 feet of an existing 66 inch diameter sanitary sewer holding tank, located within Como Park, was also modified so that more of the tank's capacity would be utilized during large flows.  The interior of the polar bear, hoofed animal and primate exhibits all drain their stormwater runoff into the sanitary sewer.  The sanitary sewer tank reduces peak flows leaving the Como Campus and helps prevent sewer backups downstream of the campus.