Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect
Wildlife Conservation Society
Year zoo career began:
Sue Chin is the Vice President of Planning and Design and Chief Architect for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS.) Sue is a licensed New York State Architect and has been with WCS for over 30 years. Sue is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA,) a member of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) She heads a department responsible for exhibit design, interpretation, graphic design, architecture, landscape design and construction at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium and select global conservation projects.
Sue is Chinese and born in the United Kingdom. She moved to the US and the Bronx when she was twelve. Her “career” started at the Bronx Zoo as a seasonal employee when she was sixteen, spending a weekend selling hot dogs which almost ended her zoo career. She returned the following week as a membership salesperson then moved on to doing live interpretation with animals to deliver on conservation messaging.
After receiving a Bachelor of Architecture, she was hired by the WCS Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department (EGAD) and started a career designing zoo and aquarium exhibits. Sue has been an integral part of the design for numerous award-winning Bronx Zoo projects including Congo, Tiger Mountain, the Center for Global Conservation and the Lion House Madagascar! Exhibit. An important aspect of her work has been integrating sustainable strategies into planning and design. This leadership has resulted in the adaptive re-use of a landmark beaux arts building, the Lion House, New York City’s first LEED (Gold) certified landmark and an immersive exhibit showcasing WCS conservation efforts in Madagascar. Most recently, Sue led an extensive design and construction effort for Ocean Wonders: Sharks! a major new building and exhibit at the New York Aquarium which opened in 2018.
She has collaborated on WCS global conservation projects in Uganda and Kenya aimed at connecting increasingly urban communities to their native wildlife. Her work in Central and South America includes architecture and exhibit design for an interpretive center in Costa Rica and the design of a marine research facility in Belize. Recent completed projects include the design and construction of an interpretive center at Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda and an education campus and visitor’s center in Madagascar.
All of these projects illustrate how design and integrated content and messaging contribute to inspiring people to care about nature and animals with the ultimate goal of creating advocates for conservation.