Oxbow Nature Center Improvements

In the past several years, HKGi provided design and planning leadership for major improvements to Oxbow Nature Center and Zollman Zoo. Initially, HKGi developed a park master plan for Oxbow Regional Park and four other Olmsted County parks, and was subsequently retained to lead a design team on one of the key implementation initiatives for Oxbow Regional Park: a new visitors center and other site improvements to Oxbow Nature Center.

HKGi worked with the County and its stakeholders to explore concept alternatives for siting the new visitors center, constructing new parking and dropoff facilities, and identifying additional site and landscape improvements to enhance the overall visitor experience of the zoo and nature center entrance plaza. The HKGi team delivered construction cost estimates for each concept, along with revenue and operations and maintenance cost estimates, which enabled County leaders to understand potential budgetary impacts during the decision-making process.

Once a preferred concept was identified, HKGi continued to engage staff and stakeholders as the design was refined. Site details include distinctive pergolas that reflect architectural details from the zoo and a Swedish-inspired fence constructed of reclaimed timber and stone from on site. HKGi’s landscape architects also designed a play area at the entrance plaza that used reclaimed boulders from site excavation.


  • HKGi led a multi-disciplinary design team consisting of architects and civil and structural engineers
  • Construction budget of $8 million for all improvements
  • Emphasis on sustainability in site design including native plantings and use of reclaimed materials from site excavation


Byron, Minnesota


Olmsted County

HKGi’s project manager, Bryan Harjes, upon the opening of the new visitors center in May, 2023: “When we first set pen to trace back in 2017-18 on the master plan work...we were not sure how far the design and planning process would go. However, after years of concept plan refinement, Olmsted County Board work sessions, the detailed construction drawings and construction administration...it is amazing to see such a transformative project come to life. Kudos to the design team that has been a part of the process. Today was a deeply meaningful milestone for this project.”

Relevant Project Experience