Text description provided by the architects. This is a project that challenges all preconceptions of the animal shelter as a building type. It creates a welcoming environment with the visitor in mind and engages the community in a positive and exciting way. These are the ultimate goals of the building, and in achieving these, we help our client achieve their goal to reduce euthanasia and increase adoptions.
The Shelter is located in the heart of a light industrial area surrounded by residential zones and close to busy avenues. The area is frequented by large trucks, buses, & trailers maneuvering in and out of adjacent properties: a bus yard to the north and a factory to the west. The building is situated strategically on the site in an effort to make it as visible and accessible as possible. People walking from the bus stop or driving from nearest avenue see its main façade projected on the corner of the site. The public parking lot is situated so that access is as convenient and as direct as possible. With its distinctive façade and bright colors, the shelter enlivens the area. It softens the street with trees and planting along the industrial streets and provides a welcomed respite for the local community.
The 24,000sf mass of the single story building is split into two parts, revealing a central Gallery that connects the public parking lot through the building to the outdoor kennel area (35,000sf). As the visitor travels through this chasm, they are exposed to much of the building’s content, much of which is visible from the parking lot: the small animal holding rooms; the cat rooms; the cat nursery; the exotic reptile room and so on; all showcasing pets for adoption. Each lobby is lined up behind storefront creating a stretch of retail that is anchored at the northwest corner with the Spay and Neuter Clinic and at the south end with the Aviary. This arrangement pulls visitors through the building and encourages them to enter into the space beyond.
The Gallery becomes the ‘Main Boulevard’ as it transitions seamlessly to the outdoor ‘Kennel Garden’. Here, the kennels are oriented in a manner that minimizes the number of kennels facing each other in an effort to mitigate noise levels and discourage contagious barking. Instead, all kennels are facing greenery clad walls or landscaped mini-parks that provide welcomed breaks in the kennels. The wide tree-lined Main Boulevard is anchored at its south end with a landscaped park area designed to accommodate large group of people perhaps schools visiting the building for its educational aspects. The secondary ‘streets’ that come off the main boulevard are also lined with trees to ensure that all kennels and walkways are gently shaded. The tree canopy opens up in areas allowing the sun into the space, to provide variation along the boulevard as you would find naturally in a park or forest space. These sun and noise mitigation efforts in combination with landscaping and rest areas, encourages the visitors to stay longer in the kennel garden. The calmer environment promotes greater interaction between visitors and the animals and works towards the goals of adoption.
When designing the exterior of the building, we wanted to somehow imply the essence of the building in its appearance. We started an investigation of the skins of animals, and intrigued by the overlapping scales of reptiles, we developed a ‘scaling’ system that could be easily and affordably manufactured. We found this concept to be simple and versatile in wrapping the tightly packed program of the building. Precast composite panels run repetitively in two rows to wrap the building’s exterior replicating the scaled skin of an animal. The panels change color as the upper and lower bands move in and out to create overhangs at entry ways, shade at glazed areas, and articulation at broad surfaces.
The building has taken all steps required to achieve LEED Silver certification. Measures have been taken to regulate lighting, temperature control, indoor air and environmental quality. Interior and exterior building materials have recycled content and are regionally available. Low-e glazing and an energy star roof reduce heat buildup inside. The building form is as compact as possible: the rooms tightly and efficiently laid out. The main Gallery is an exterior space, reducing the overall air-conditioned square footage considerably. Solar panels cover the building roof and skylight allow light into all rooms occupied by people and animals. All site landscaping is designed with ease of maintenance and low water consumption in mind. Ultimately this building pioneers approaches to social as well as environmental goals making it quite unique. This LEED Silver building transcends its utilitarian nature and in doing so, creates a meaningful experience for the visitor, the staff and the community.