Zawadi Market and Tiger Crossroads at the Nashville Zoo


An authentic, world-class, educational experience was the goal of two projects at the Nashville Zoo. The point of entry for the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere reinvents the visitor experience from the start and provides the proverbial “icing on the cake” to a day at the Zoo filled with discovery. The Zawadi Market specialty store and marketplace is themed as an African village with thatched-roofed buildings and waterfalls. An outdoor deck marketplace with shoppable hut-like kiosks complement the store’s African lodge-like feel. Outside influences extend inside the vaulted ceilings with roped wood timbers custom-finished to emulate the roof lines and provide an openness to the space.

To further that authenticity, JGA designed the new Sumatran tiger exhibit to reflect (rather than replicate) the true architecture you’d find surrounding the tigers’ homeland in Indonesia. An outdoor bridge viewing area complements the Asian architectural components featured on the new viewing building — right down to the hand-painted and intricately hand-carved woodwork using more than 16 different paint and stain colors. Inside, you see the story of the tiger’s threat and what you can do to preserve this species. The focus on education is immersive with an interactive display and a flip board wall. The engaging aspect of the content over traditional static graphics is a much more effective learning tool.

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