Museum of Living Art (MOLA) – Fort Worth Zoo — Fort Worth, Texas


The Fort Worth Zoo’s new herpetarium, named the Museum of Living Art or MOLA, required not only the space and infrastructure to accommodate the zoo’s complex program for animal display and conservation, but also required that the building break away from more traditional zoo architectural forms.

In working with the zoo’s staff to understand each animal’s needs and habitat, the team became inspired by the landscape and biological forms. Curved roofs floating above the limestone walls recall the Fort Worth prairie’s rolling hills and limestone outcroppings. Galvalume roof panels curve like reptilian scales to follow the roof’s complex shapes. Changing light and shadow patterns on the interior stone walls are reminiscent of a reptile’s scale patterns.

Interior animal exhibits are framed and displayed as living pieces of art. Low level accent lighting illuminates the interior volumes of the roofs and takes inspiration from the Texas sky at dawn and dusk. Moving through the exhibit areas, ceilings and light levels are lowered to create a sense of compression, which is offset by the higher ceilings and increased light levels of the walk-through exhibits where translucent, stylized leaf ceiling panels create a diffused, dappled light.

  • Top Ten Award 2011 — Topping Out Awards
  • Top Honors Award for Exhibitory — Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • Building of America Award 2010 — The Building of America