Brookfield Zoo, Hamill Family Nature and Science Plaza


Hamill Family Nature and Science Plaza

Forest Preserve District of Cook County / Brookfield, Illinois

Project Scope

Former home of Baboon Island, the newly developed 1.5 acre Hamill Family Nature Plaza now provides guests with the opportunity to relax in a serene, natural environment. Winding pathways feature opportunities for nature play and education while surrounding an open-sided, three-season pavilion for seasonal chats with Brookfield Zoo staff and Animal Ambassadors. Education programs and private functions such as weddings, receptions and corporate events are held in the evenings.

Guests can also discover nature in the science exploration garden for structured zoo educational programming. A sensory garden full of raised beds helps guests learn about flowers and vegetables that can be planted at home.

Other plaza features include the council ring for structured classes and large gatherings. Finally, the complete renovation of the old Scoops Restaurant has a newly branded Peacock Café and Grill with food options themed around sustainable dining.


Brookfield Zoo
3300 Gold Road
Brookfield, Illinois 60513


Dr. Stuart D. Strahl
President and CEO

Rich Gamble
Chief Operating Officer/
Executive Vice President

The Featherstone Difference

The Zoo had received a generous donation for the development of The Hamill Family Nature and Science Plaza and Featherstone evaluated the concept against dollars allocated. The substantial differential discovered, nearly doubled the projected budget for the promised facility. Looking to establish a development program based on parameters stated in the pledge letter, a proviso requiring programmatic elements be self-sustainable was identified by Featherstone. With this strategy in mind, industry expert consultant, Profitable Foods was enlisted to reboot the onsite concessionaire operations to provide additional revenue generation for the Zoo.

With a truly, credible cost estimate and a plan for programmatic sustainability, Featherstone assisted the Zoo with raising the additional funds needed to development the design and complete the construction. By establishing a performance history with the donor and providing accuracy and transparency cost information, Featherstone helped the Zoo establish a happy and trust-based relationship with their benefactors. Additional, significant funds were secured from the donor because they were secure in knowing that there would be no further financial supported needed to complete the project. This solution proffered by Featherstone won over the donor, all over again.

Category: Specialty Land Development

Budget: $7,000,000

Featherstone’s team worked with quality, safety, timing and budget in mind. Their efforts transformed the former site into a vibrant location for learning, science exploration, dining and events.

– Rich Gamble
Chief Operating Officer
Executive Vice President