Detroit Zoo Unveils New Water Tower Design


A project more than two years in the making is on its way to being completed at the Detroit Zoo as the new designs and branding for its iconic water tower have been revealed.

Ad agency Doner designed the new look, reportedly requiring a 515-gallon paint job and a 30-foot-high vinyl wrap that depicts the new zoo logo with animals peeking out from the O letters. Zoo officials say it should take about two weeks to complete.

According to the zoo, the new look aims to celebrate animals and nature, in addition to highlighting the strength of their new logo as it features many of the animals who call the zoo home.

“We know the water tower is an iconic landmark in our community, and many people have a special connection to it,” Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director and CEO Hayley Murphy said in a statement.

“We’ve heard so many stories of the joy people get, adults and children alike, when they see the water tower, whether they’re out and about in the community or heading to the Zoo for a visit. This new design will continue to spark that joy for years to come.”

Previously, the structure has only had three other designs in its almost 100-year history, including one in 1928, 1986 and 1998 until recent.

The Detroit Zoological Society also revealed its new tagline, “Where life connects,” along with the rebranded logos.

“We wanted to head in a modern and timeless direction with our logos,” said Kim Waatti, the Society's Director of Marketing. “We also looked at this as an opportunity to elevate our storytelling capabilities.”

Waatti added that an 18-foot-wide, three-dimensional version of the zoo's new logo is featured outside the front gates for visitors to pose for photos within the “larger than life” letter Os.

“The water tower obviously is iconic and it really holds you know, place in the community's hearts and we wanted to find a way that the community could potentially take a piece of that history home with them,” Waatti said.

The water tower maintenance, painting and wrap cost approximately $800,000, Waatti said, although the bulk of the funds were allocated to maintenance and repairs.

In May last year, The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings published an article recapping the maintenance project from the coating contractor’s perspective as the zoo restored the carbon steel water tower.

When the Detroit Zoo decided to restore the structure that has served as a long-time brand icon for the attraction, it faced several challenges typical for such a project, and one or two that were completely unique.

The last time the 161-foot water tower had been refurbished was approximately 15 years ago. The coating was cracked, checked, oxidized and delaminated throughout, and corrosion was evident on the I-beams and cross members, which serve as the support system for the tower.

Read the full article, “A Wild Time: Repainting a Water Tank at the Detroit Zoo,” by Mike Moran, Protective Coatings Epoxy Systems; and Gordon Brinker, PPG Protective & Marine Coatings in the JPCL archives.

As for the former water tower wrap artwork, the zoo plans repurpose remnants of it to make a line of accessories and jewelry. They have partnered with a Detroit-based, woman-owned business Rebel Nell to create the pieces.

“It’s not only a wonderful way for the community to take a piece of history home with them, but it is in alignment with our sustainability principles,” said Waatti. “It was just a wonderful collaboration and we couldn’t be more thrilled how it came out.”


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Design; Maintenance coating work; Maintenance programs; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Public spaces; Rehabilitation/Repair; Tanks; Tanks; Tower; Water Tanks

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