caption
The elephant exhibit includes two glass-enclosed images of the actual life-sized elephants that live at the zoo.

The Oregon Zoo recently underwent a big expansion for a big animal. A four-year, $57-million project quadrupled the size of its elephant habitat, and it got a key assist from glass.

Within the exhibit, which opened to the public last month, are two glass-enclosed images of the actual life-sized elephants that live at the zoo. The larger display spans 16 feet wide and more than 12 feet high. The images provide a vivid look at the elephants, and perhaps an even more impressive demonstration of the capabilities of glass.

Sandy, Ore.-based Moon Shadow Glass direct-printed and laminated the images between lites of glass in a true four-color process. The images, according to Moon Shadow marketing and creative director Kris Iverson, are viewable with high clarity on both sides. Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope© supplied the PPG Starphire glass.

The larger display—showcasing “Packy” —is made up of four 47 ¾-by-120 ¼-inch panels and another 47 ¾ by-28½ inch lites on the bottom. The glass totals more than 1,200 pounds. The other display—showing “Rose II” and “Lily”—consists of two 46 ⅞-by-105 ¼-inch panels and totals close to 450 pounds.

JDP_7459-HDR_format
Moon Shadow Glass direct-printed and laminated the images between lites of glass in a true four-color process.

Because the complete images were made up of multiple lites, the fabrication process required extra care. Iverson says the challenge was making sure all of the panels aligned perfectly, as they allowed less than an eighth-of-an-inch gap between each one.

Another critical factor was “keeping the color consistent throughout each image,” he says. “We had to make sure everything color-coordinated perfectly.”

Moon Shadow began the project in February of 2015, working out any issues with the images and colors. The company finished fabrication by July and brought the glass to exhibition designer and fabricator Formations to be framed.

Initially, Formations wanted holes in each of the corners to support the glass to the frame. According to Iverson, the sheer weight of all the glass would have likely caused breakage, so Formations added a thin plate and rubber to the bottom of the frame, which the glass sits on. Formations installed the displays at the exhibit later in the year, before it opened to the public at the end of 2015.