Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
Southold Animal Shelter in New York by Studio a/b Architects
March 2nd, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Studio a/b Architects
AIA Peconic Chapter, Merit Award, 2010
An animal shelter is complex, being hospital, refuge, prison, school, community center, and shop. The program required multiple small rooms configured for both interconnections and separations, which careful zoning reinforces. The main entrance divides healthy visits from drop-offs. There are separate entrances for night deliveries of animals, public access to the community room, goods delivery and access to exterior dog runs. Most rooms require exterior exposures for fresh air, sunlight and access. Sound, safety, air quality and sanitary controls have stringent requirements. A dense, circulation mesh results. To provide expansive places in a compact plan, day-lighting and visual connections between and through spaces are provided.
Staff can see through the lobby and adjacent rooms to the cat rooms and outside dog runs, as well as public entries. Glass walls gift tiny rooms with a sense of expansiveness. Skylights provide natural light, release pressure from the weight of the ceiling, stimulate interest, indicate time, and connect the interior visually to the changing sky. The changing shadows and colors enliven the spaces. Color coding of doors and windows help differentiate uses. Colored skylight wells draw the eye to the interior of rooms viewed from the corridor, focusing attention on the animals and activities.
The animals were considered clients. For instance, kennel doors were offset to provide options for varied environments. The animals can choose to be outside or in; sit in the path of a breeze or sheltered in a corner. The changing light gives them an awareness of diurnal and seasonal change. The two main kennels are separated by a wall into singly ganged runs to control sound and reduce stress. The animals are the main attraction. When visitors approach the building, the cats are visible immediately, as well as from the lobby. Outdoor runs can also be viewed from the lobby and kennels from the corridor.
We strongly advocated the indoor/outdoor design preferred by the operators. We even volunteered at the shelter to observe daily routines. The design was sited to maintain the existing animal shelter during construction and to minimize lot coverage due to circulation. While the resulting axis was basically north/south, we placed the sun-loving cats to the south and extruded the community room to gain southern exposures. We used NRG blocks, masonry units having a layer of internal rigid insulation, to provide superior thermal value using single wythe construction. The walls have water resistant surfaces both inside and out. The roof provides both actual and symbolic shelter to the creatures beneath. The shelter has reported that they have 24 new volunteers, house 30% more cats, offer weekly humane education classes, and have canines more settled than before. The director’s cat now prefers the shelter to home.
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