Staten Island, New York, USA
Designed to provide comfort to cats, dogs, and the people engaging with them, Garrison Architects’ Staten Island Animal Care Center, designed in collaboration with landscape architects, Wallace Roberts and Todd, creates a humane and controlled environment for animals awaiting adoption.
The Staten Island Animal Care Center project has recently been awarded a 2023 International Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
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.
The 493 square meter shelter hosts 71 animals including 50 cats, 15 dogs, and guinea pigs/rabbits, and intends to alleviate the anxiety animals feel when boxed into closed structures, as they wait for adoption.
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 lightweight structure.
Since animal shelters do not recycle ventilation air, heat energy can be recovered from exhaust air.
After long research, Garrison Architects identified the core problems that needed to be solved.
“Most shelters are arranged like warehouses with dense cage arrays containing large animal populations in a single room. For dogs, this results in a kind of feedback loop where they respond to each other’s distress in a communal howl,” explains James Garrison, principal architect at Garrison Architects.
“The noise is deafening, the smell is overwhelming, and there is no sense of night or day. Responding to this context became our mission—to ameliorate the animals’ living conditions and create a strong connection to nature. Once we recognized this goal it became apparent that our building should provide its principal inhabitants with natural light and copious ventilation in a small-scale setting.”
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.
Project: Staten Island Animal Care Center
Architects: Garrison Architects
Lead Architect: James Garrison
Civil Engineer: Wohl & O’Mara
Landscape Architects: Wallace Roberts and Todd
General Contractor: Minelli Construction Co., Inc.
Client: NYC Department of Design and Construction
Photographers: Eduard Hueber