The main objective behind the design for the new Staten Island Animal Care Center was to create a high quality environment for the animals, staff and visitors. The building is sheathed in a highly insulating, translucent polycarbonate envelope. This provides higher performance in comparison to typical glass and maximizes the benefits of natural light. The roof of the outer perimeter housing the animals is raised above a lower interior roof plane, which covers other shelter functions. This configuration permits the daylight to enter the facility on multiple sides. Natural ventilation is encouraged along the periphery with the use of a passive air ventilation system. A sophisticated mechanical system that uses heat recovery to feed heat gain energy back into the system is incorporated into the design to provide constant fresh air exchange.
By inverting the typical shelter programming inside out, the animals are housed on the perimeter of the building while offices and other functions are placed in the interior. Such an arrangement, combined with the use of translucent exterior allows the animals to benefit from natural daylight and creates an animated façade that engages the passers-by. By night, the glow of the building creates a presence in the otherwise dark neighborhood.
The building is designed as a low budget, high performance space that aims to achieve a LEED Silver rating. The selection of locally produced materials that can withstand abuse should minimize the long-term maintenance costs. The approach to landscaping follows a similar principal. The native plants and grasses surrounding the building do not need supplemental irrigation. The new shelter is scheduled to be completed in 2011.