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the "front-of-house space" for the larger sanctuary. "This, paired with a back-of-house facility,
becomes a new kind of a prototype in animal
adoption," she notes. "The whole store has two
focuses-one is the adoption of animals and the second is the messaging and branded environment."
There was no shortage of design inspiration for
the space. The shelter reflects the organization's expansive sanctuary tucked into Utah's southwestern
desert dotted with red rock formations and lush
greenery at a high elevation.
The Utah sanctuary features "amazingly wideopen vistas and rock canyons," describes Judah
Battista, Best Friends Animal Society's co-founder
↖ The dog suites
"sniff holes" to
lessen noise and
↑ [Top] A merchandise zone
on a crisp white
and chief regional programs officer. So the
challenge became how to translate this into a
3,900-sq.-ft. retail space in downtown New York.
RA-DA interpreted a modern, urban reflection
of the canyons into the space through a fluid layout
and "the idea that you can tell that there's something
more to see just out of sight," says Battista, adding
that it pulls you into and through the space.
"There was a conscientious designing, not just of
its function, but of the experience of engaging with
that function," Battista explains. "That was really
important to us, because coming to the sanctuary is
experiential." He notes that the goal wasn't to replicate the 3,000-acre sanctuary, which has more
than 1,500 animals, but to take some of the same
principles: "That it's an experience, that it's potentially a bit unexpected, that it's an expression of our
priorities and values...We have a utilitarian purpose
and it's the design that elevates that," he says.
In SoHo, the material selection was informed by
the imagery of the landscape at the Best Friends
Kanab Sanctuary. Warm, natural materials are employed throughout and envelop the path entirely,
so that visitors feel as though they are walking
through a landscape.
And because an adoption center serves such a
specific "retail" purpose, factors from sanitation to
acoustics had to be carefully planned, which also
impacted the use of materials.
Alomar, whose firm has worked on projects in
the shelter sector, notes that functionality isn't