Winner of the NYC Public Design Commission Award 2011
The Staten Island Animal Care Center is designed to encourage the adoption of animals while creating a humane and controlled environment during their stay. In addition, the program requires unique circulation patterns to provide for the routing and isolation of well, sick, and un-examined animals as they are processed and tended to. The building is sheathed in a highly insulating, translucent polycarbonate envelope that provides four times the insulating value of glass, maximizes the benefits of natural light, and allows for a very light weight structure. Light enters the building from all directions via a recessed clerestory court, with the resulting section creating a pathway for natural ventilation. Animal shelters, like hospitals, do not recycle ventilation air; heat energy can be recovered from exhaust to temper incoming air. When not in natural ventilation mode the mechanical system utilizes an entropy wheel to reclaim ninety percent of the energy contained in the outgoing air.
In a reversal of the typical condition, animals are housed around the perimeter of the building while offices and service functions are placed in the interior. As the staff spends most of its time with the animals this arrangement benefits both. Natural light positively affects the animals' mood, and by placing fewer animals together in a single line a more relaxed atmosphere is created throughout the building. This addresses one of the great design challenges in animal care facilities: a disturbed animal can solicit feedback and disrupt the entire community. This strategy, combined with the translucent exterior, creates a lively façade populated by the animals. By night, the soft glow of the building creates a presence in the otherwise dark neighborhood.
The building is designed as a low budget, high performance facility. Locally produced materials with high recycled content are utilized throughout. Selecting materials that can withstand abuse minimizes long term maintenance costs, further reinforcing the life cycle sustainability of the building. Landscape design follows a similar principle — locally sourced drought tolerant indigenous plantings are used exclusively.
Status: Under Construction
Location: New York, NY, US