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While reading the book Jurassic Park, I read that the visitor center was made almost entirely of glass with a black metal frame. Apparently, this made the building look 'very modern and hi-tech'. While this would give the building a nice aesthetic, my question is, why would John Hammond build the visitor center, arguably the most important and vital structure on Isla Nublar, out of glass? This seems like a really bad idea, especially since Isla Nublar is full of dinosaurs. In-universe explanations only.

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    Why not? The visitor centre helps sell the park, so if the structure is strong enough, aesthetics are a major consideration in the design.
    – Michael
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 2:48
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    it still seems like a bad idea. I mean it IS an island full of dinosaurs....
    – user128883
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 2:59
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    If they're looking in the visitor centre you're probably already in deep trouble.
    – Michael
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 3:20
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    @Michael is right - if the Visitor Center is threatened by dinosaurs, you shouldn't be in the Visitor Center. You should be leaving the island. Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 15:47
  • Well they were so careful keeping the park a secret and spent a long time trying to prevent an accident, (funny how the contract Dr Grant signed had a code in it that was hard to decode, but got there entire computer system hacked by a fat guy with shaving cream), so they didn’t plan for dinosaurs to actually escape and go to the visitor center
    – Thomas
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 14:31

3 Answers 3

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Hammond's sin is hubris. He doesn't see the animals in the park as a major threat, hence there's no need to give the visitors (in the Visitor Centre or elsewhere in the park) any more protection than is specifically needed to keep the animals in their pens, physically separated from the human accessible areas.

“Let's not start on the velociraptors,” Hammond said. “I'm sick of hearing about the velociraptors. How they're the most vicious creatures anyone has ever seen.”

“They are,” Muldoon said, in a low voice. “They should all be destroyed.”

“You wanted to fit them with radio collars,” Hammond said. “And I agreed.”

“Yes. And they promptly chewed the collars off. But even if the raptors never get free,” Arnold said, “I think we have to accept that Jurassic Park is inherently hazardous.”

“Oh balls, ” Hammond said. "Whose side are you on, anyway?

Jurassic Park

Admittedly it takes a nested series of unlikely failures before the dinosaurs get to the visitor centre at all; the removal of the electric fences, a disgruntled employee actively subverting their security systems, an unseasonable storm, consistent underfeeding of the T-Rex and a set of poor assumptions about how the dinos will react, etc etc. to get things to the point where the safety of the visitor centre is even an issue.


For the record, This glass and steel confection is the visitor centre at the Lincoln Park Zoo where they host a variety of creatures that could easily kill a human (especially a child) if they escaped.

Lincoln Park Zoo visitor centre with various people walking around it; the centre is a white framed building with floor to ceiling glass all the way around

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  • don't forget a disgruntled employee to make it all happen
    – user128883
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 13:11
  • @OldNoName Wasn't it a disgruntled IT guy? These are even more dangerous. Commented May 24, 2020 at 20:38
  • Really? Dennis Nedry is the fing hero of this story if you ask me. A single guy to run all the techops of the entire facility? Clearly working extra hours and completely underpaid to the point it’s starting to affect his health (he’s dealing with overweight due to anxiety and stress). And when he goes for a f*inf second to the bathroom and there’s a crisis the first thing is to pull him out?? Really? No backup? What happens at night? Does he also get woken up??? In my opinion they did all got what they deserved and the only thing I’d change is the tragic death of the hero. Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 18:56
  • Well the zoo has big cats, Jurassic Park, has friggen dinosaurs, soooooooo
    – Thomas
    Commented Mar 24, 2023 at 14:33
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First of all, it's construction grade glass, that stuff is more durable than we give it credit. Hammond was a much more shrewd business type person in the novel. In the movie, Spielberg portrays him more like Andrew Carnagie, more sincere but still business acumen.

Concept art depicted the facility with elevated and separate array, inspired by John Lautner's architecture.

Concept art of the island and the centre; in the foreground to the left we have a helicopter on a landing pad built on top of a rock formation, the right side shows the centre built on a different rock formation above waterfalls and in the centre is a lowered valley area with a river running through it and dinosaurs wandering around

Remember this novel was written in the 80's, back then steel and glass was corporate chic....

A tall skyscraper at night showing it's layered patterns of steel bands and glass bands wrapping around the building

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  • that concept art is for the movie, the book is the source of the question
    – user128883
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 16:21
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It might be ineffective to design a visitor's center that looked strong enough to hold out dinosaurs but wasn't that strong. It is possible that a building actually strong enough to keep out really large dinosaurs would be too expensive to build.

It seems to me that a visitor center that looked strong enough to you might not actually be strong enough to keep out the larger dinosaurs.

For example, I once read of a parade of circus elephants that stampeded in a US town. One elephant smashed in through the front wall of a wooden frame building, through the interior walls, and out through the back wall of the building.

I have read a Victorian era article which mentioned a big bull elephant chasing all the villagers out of a village in India and then picking up and tossing the houses (presumably tiny one room shacks) hard enough that they splintered when they hit the ground.

I have read an online article mentioning that a man in India was injured by a flying brick when an elephant broke a hole in the wall of his house and reached in to grab a bag of rice.

In India, elephants are used to demolish buildings erected by squatters in a wildlife preserve.

Years ago I read of elephants being used to demolish illegal buildings in cities in India. Animal rights groups objected, fearing that the elephants might be injured by falling concrete and other construction materials.

I once read an account of two bull circus elephants fighting during winter quarters. The fight ended when the winner pushed the loser through the wall of the elephant barn, which was made of bricks and 14 inches thick. Neither elephant was seriously injured.

So I find it easy to believe that a building might look like it could keep out even the largest dinosaur, and yet be easy for a large dinosaur to break into.

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