This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the location of New York City's newest animal shelter. The 47,000-square-foot Bronx home for rescued, missing, and abandoned creatures will be designed by global firm Mott MacDonald.Last year, city shelters placed 93 percent of its dogs and cats with pet parents through public adoption or through the city's adoption partner program. The shelter system, which contracts with nonprofit Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) to provide services, takes in an average of 30,000 animals across in all five boroughs annually. With space for 70 dogs, 140 cats, 30 rabbits, and 20 other animals, plus ACC offices, this will be the Bronx's first full-service shelter. "We are a completely different organization than we were even five years ago. We have become the go-to resource for NYC animal related issues—from pet adoption to rescue to help with keeping pets and families together," said ACC President and CEO Risa Weinstock, in a prepared statement. "We are excited to bring that level of service to the Bronx, with the addition of a new facility." The East Bronx facility, pictured above, will cost $60 million to build. The city is also renovating an existing shelter in East New York, Brooklyn, to meet demand for animal care services. Pending a successful Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the Bronx building is slated to open in 2024, while renovations on the Brooklyn building will be complete in 2022.
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Chicago-area cats unlucky enough to see the inside of an animal shelter can rest a little easier starting next year, when Tree House Humane Society's $7 million rescue and care facility is expected to open, “catfé” and all. Chicago architects Dobbins Group designed the purr-worthy space, which in renderings boasts a full-service public vet clinic for cats and dogs, pristine adoption rooms, a pet food pantry and supply store, an education center, and a cafe where visitors can sip coffee and spend time with the animals. The new building, 7225 North Western Avenue, would have enough room to house 150 animals—about the same capacity as Tree House's current facilities in Uptown, but with more space for each animal to roam around. The new facility will also allow Tree House to move out of a converted single-family home at 1212 West Carmen Avenue, where they have cared for some 35,000 cats and other animals since 1971. An anonymous donor gifted the West Rogers Park site to Tree House, which so far has raised $5 million in private donations for the building's construction. They're still looking for another $2 million. For DNAinfo Chicago, Linze Rice found out Tree House retained several "cat-lebrities" in their design studies:
During the design process, Tree House organizers sought expert advice on everything from feline behaviorists to cat style experts. Kate Benjamin, founder of Hauspanther Design, worked with the nonprofit to help design natural living spaces, and Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist known from the Animal Planet TV series “My Cat From Hell” was consulted to help create a stimulating environment.A ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for May.
In Griffis Sculpture Park near Buffalo, New York, a twisting triangular tower serves more than a purely aesthetic purpose. Designed by architect and assistant professor at the University of Buffalo, Joyce Hwang, the 12-foot-tall sculpture of stained plywood panels is conceptualized as a protective home for bats. Constructed conspicuously but practically, the University reports that Hwang’s Bat Tower is an effort to raise awareness for the recent disease-caused decline of these flying mammals, usually considered pests. Hwang, who teaches architecture and also directs her own firm, Ants of the Prairie, is committed to use of the built environment for the benefit of the natural environment. For Bat Tower, the construction is animal-friendly; five segments of wood panels create a stack of irregular triangular prisms and their vertically slatted widths (also triangle-shaped) have enough space between each panel for the bats to enter. Inside, the tower mimics a cave-like habitat and a series of screws and steel cables serve dual purpose to stabilize the tower and allow animal perches for hibernation. According to the University of Buffalo, while the bats are in this seasonal sleep, they can become susceptible to white-nose syndrome. Although little is know about the disease, it has already killed over one million of the Northeast's bat population. Hwang’s built habitat mimics the environment of a natural cave, giving bats a safe, familiar home. She also hopes that the bold design of her tower will encourage education about their recent devastation. As an architect, Hwang continuously explores the use of architecture for ecological benefit. “Since I was a graduate student, I have taken an interest in the constructive relationships between humans and animals, and how we can shape our environment in a beneficial way," she said. "Bat Tower draws attention to bats by challenging the notion of a bat house being something nondescript that fades into the background."