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Houston Zoo - Galápagos Island

Houston Zoo’s Galápagos Island Exhibit was created to provide guests with a realistic experience of how it would be if one were to visit the actual Galápagos Islands.  The exhibit showcases unique landscaping, habitats and wildlife providing the experience of a lifetime and includes penguins, sea lions, iguanas, tortoises, sharks, rays, sea turtles, sea horses as well as a myriad of other fish. The exhibit provides the animals within a safe and suitable environment. Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing performed multiple division 7 scopes including below-grade waterproofing, air barrier, insulation, site and building sealants, metal flashing and an aquatic pool coating.  These systems protect against water and air infiltration, direct water away from critical areas and help regulate temperature within the exhibit all of which adds to the structural integrity, durability, beauty and functionality of the different enclosures making up the exhibit.


Chamberlin’s comprehensive approach to the Galápagos exhibit encompassed a wide range of critical scopes, each carefully executed to add to the structural integrity, durability, beauty and functionality of the diverse enclosures within the exhibit.

In addition to the pools, the exhibit has multiple, extensive pedestrian areas that are below grade.  Chamberlin expertly installed over 18,000 square-feet of waterproofing systems to ensure ground water could not infiltrate these areas in order to safeguard against potential damage while preserving the exhibit’s integrity and longevity.

Chamberlin employed their highly skilled crews to also install over 29,000 square feet of air barrier, 2,500 linear feet of sheet metal flashing and 47,000 square feet insulation systems throughout the exhibit to prevent water and air infiltration and enhance energy efficiency. 

These barriers play a vital role in maintaining a controlled interior environment, optimizing temperature regulation throughout the year and reducing energy consumption. By effectively sealing off potential air leaks, Chamberlin’s solutions contribute to the overall sustainability and operation of the exhibit, providing a comfortable space for both visitors and inhabitants. 

 Chamberlin’s quality craftsmen were also tasked to install about 13,000 linear feet of sealants including at CMU control joints, precast panel joints and masonry control joints.   These installations not only added to the beauty of the exhibit but protected the structures from water infiltration and the damage this can cause while helping to provide a comfortable experience for those visiting the exhibit.  Chamberlin also installed almost 7,000 linear feet of site sealants throughout the exterior of the exhibit reducing erosion of the supportive substrate under the walkways thus protecting and increasing the longevity of these structures.  In addition to protecting the associated structures, these installations helped to enhance the exhibit’s architectural elements. 

The almost 14,000 square feet of aquatic pool coating applied by Chamberlin serves as a protective layer as well as a beautiful finish coat for the pools.  The coating is a waterproofing system providing protection for the critical concrete and steel structure below. The attention to detail and high-quality craftsmanship exhibited by Chamberlin in executing these critical scopes have shielded the exhibit from moisture-related issues and ensured the structural integrity and durability of the exhibit creating a safe, functional, and sustainable environment for both the exhibit’s inhabitants and the visitors who experience its wonders.

Challenges Overcome

In the initial phases of the project, the plans called for the installation of waterproofing in all the pool areas with a separate finish coat to be applied by another contractor. A challenge arose when the specified finish coating was found to be incompatible with the waterproofing system originally designated for the project.  In response to this unforeseen issue, Chamberlin offered that the specified waterproofing material had properties that allowed it to withstand exposure to the elements and serve as a suitable finish coat on its own. 

Leveraging the expertise of their skilled technicians, the team successfully installed nearly 14,000 square feet of waterproofing across the various pool areas, effectively transforming it into the final pool finish.  This innovative solution ensured the integrity of the waterproofing system resulting in substantial cost savings for the project of tens of thousands of dollars.