Project Manager/ Design Engineer
Year zoo career began:
Florence Tang is a project manager in the Department of Design and Engineering at the Houston Zoo where she is a part of new exhibits and design and construction projects at the zoo. Her daily tasks change constantly but she frequently has planning, design and construction meetings to review drawings, plans, budgets, and goals. She is on site in the field to check on existing and built conditions and meets with various project stakeholders involved from zoo staff to consultants and guests. Typically, Florence travels to factories or studios to meet with fabricators and exhibit partners to check on design aspects of the project. She recently oversaw the zoo’s South America’s Pantanal 4.2 acre project, which includes 11 new animal habitats. The new project highlights dozens of South American species and includes many levels of engagement with visitors who have diverse levels of mobility.
Florence was born in the United States and raised in Houston by Indo-Vietnamese parents who had fled communism “under the cover of darkness.” She is the first person in her family to attend college when she attended Trinity University in San Antonio after winning a scholarship for high school journalists along with a Presidential Scholarship coupled with work-study and financial aid. After graduating from Trinity, Florence worked as a night editor at the Houston Chronicle before studying architecture in graduate school at Rice University. After earning her graduate degree, she worked on various residential and commercial projects at multiple firms before joining the zoo.
Florence loves being able to walk around the zoo to observe animals, discover the plants, and pick up a mangonada or ice cream cone once in a while. She loves that she can inspire action to save wildlife through her job, which allows her to flex her sustainability and environmental justice muscles while connecting people and the built environment to fragile and beautiful ecosystems around our world. For aspiring zoo architects, Florence says: “Chase what gives you energy. Everyone will have a different maze and we don’t have to follow the same prescribed path.”