The National Aviary in Pittsburgh put the last beam in place on its $18.5 million dollar expansion. Aviary Executive Director Patrick Mangus says its is actually the third phase of the project that also included the new penguin exhibit and the new grasslands exhibit. The highlight of the final phase is a 125-seat free flight multi-media theater and a 50-seat rooftop outdoor theater. The outdoor theater will feature shows using raptors chasing after lures. The 10,000 square foot addition also includes a permanent classroom, a new entrance and a new café. Mangus says the plan is to have everything open by Labor Day. He says the project is fully funded at this point.
As the aviary grows its footprint it will also expand the number of birds on display. Mangus says the aviary currently has about 600 birds and he has plans to add 50-75 more. The new entrance area will be built using something called fritted glass. The panes are covered with a small dot pattern that allows light to pass through while at the same time appearing opaque enough that birds will not mistake it for a flight path. The goal is to show how a building can have light filled spaces without endangering wild birds.