The Honolulu Zoo occupies a 42-acre site in Waikiki, Honolulu, and is the only zoo in the US originating from a King’s grant of royal lands to the people. It receives around 600,000 people annually, and is open 364 days a year, every day except Christmas Day.

The new zoo entrance consists of gift shop, ticket booth, and concierge building. The gift shop is sited adjacent to the zoo exit so as to encourage visitors to walk through as they leave. It is a high use, high traffic area, frequented by the entire range of zoo visitors: parents with young children, teenagers, senior citizens, locals, and tourists alike.

The zoo is open rain or shine, and most of its exhibits are located outdoors. The polished concrete floor of the gift shop provides for maximum durability, necessary for the constant stream of daily visitors. The floor’s ease of maintenance allows for quick cleanup when shoes get muddy; and eliminates the need for potent cleaners, waxes, or coatings.

When the gift shop’s floor slab was poured, special care was taking during the troweling process to eliminate any dips and divots, and to achieve an even distribution of aggregate across the surface area. It was important to create a level and even surface for optimal polishing results.

The first step of the polishing process involved smoothing the edges and corners of the floor with a small handheld dry grinder. The contractor then used a Terrco grinder with diamond stones for the main portion of the floor area, passing over the floor eight successive times, and ending with a 2000 grit polishing pad in order to achieve a high level of surface sheen. A densifier was applied, prior to the final pass, to provide further strengthening and protection to the surface.

Although the project was not required to be LEED certified, it was designed to follow the basic tenets of sustainable design. The polished concrete floor was a perfect fit because of its environmental attributes; it contains no Volitile Organic Compunds (VOCs), and does not require any coatings or epoxies.

The overall design aesthetic of the gift shop communicates an honesty of materials: painted steel, clear sealed wood, rammed earth walls, and polished concrete. Careful consideration was given to material selection, as structure doubles as finish much of the time. The polished concrete provides an integral non-slip floor finish, eliminating the need for a conventional floor covering. Its reflective properties are visually striking, and help to brighten the space, as well as accent merchandise displays. The floor’s glossy surface lends an elegant, as well as functional, appeal to the building’s retail space.

Contractor: Urban Works, Inc.