The Staten Island Animal Care Center creates a humane and controlled environment for animals awaiting adoption. The heart of the design is a reversal of the typical arrangement of animal care facilities: animals are housed around the perimeter of the building while offices and service functions are placed in the interior. Since the staff spends most of its time with the animals, this arrangement benefits both.
Dispersing the animals along the exterior mitigates any disruption caused by a single, troubled animal, and improves the mood of all by providing them with copious natural light. This social strategy, combined with the translucent exterior, creates a lively façade populated by animals. At night, the soft glow of the building illuminates an otherwise dark neighborhood.
The building is sheathed in a highly insulating, translucent polycarbonate envelope which maximizes natural light and allows for a very light weight structure. Light enters the building from all directions via a recessed clerestory court creating a pathway for natural ventilation. Since animal shelters do not recycle ventilation air, heat energy can be recovered from exhaust air.
The building is designed as a low budget, high performance facility using locally produced materials with high recycled content. Materials were chosen to withstand abuse and minimize long term maintenance costs, further reinforcing the life cycle sustainability of the building. Landscape design follows a similar principle using drought tolerant indigenous plantings to lower maintenance and water use.
Read more about the project in Wired: "A Clever Animal Shelter Is Designed to Make You Say ‘Aww!’"