design:retail - July 2017 - 53
determined just by efficiency, but also by the
health of the animals. "To a certain extent, they're
almost like medical spaces," she says, "There are
some precautions that you have to take, so that
disease isn't easily transmitted, so that areas
where the animals live and even walk through are
really easy to clean and aren't collecting bacteria."
The difficulty, she adds, in a project like this is the
balance between aesthetic and function.
The approach was conceptually dividing the environment into "people space" and "animal space,"
Alomar explains. However, there was a limit to
that, because the animals are still walking through
the people space. "So putting down carpet, for instance, was a no-go," she laughs.
Beyond the welcoming open entry, the central
area and path leading through the facility were
lined with a wood tile to match the ceiling's real
wood. With a need for resiliency, the wood tiling,
treated with epoxy, runs 18 inches up the wall, a
special consideration since dogs may stop in corners to relieve themselves. The cat area also features
a series of stacked boxes built from Corian, making them easy to clean and antimicrobial. "They're
almost like fancy showers...We can't just put a wallcovering on the wall, it has to be like a bathroom,"
Alomar explains, adding that the kennels and cats'
free play areas are epoxy with smoothed edges to
prevent bacteria from collecting in corners.
A meandering path leads visitors through the
center, punctuated with moments of discovery as
they progress through the space. Flanking the path
through the center are free-play spaces for the cats,
a kitten nursery and dog suites-each designed to
creatively showcase the animals and allow interaction and engagement. A glass enclosure allows
guests to see the cats lounging on stepped boxes
inside the cat free-play room, where small letterings on the wall give the animals
a playful voice with positive messages like, "Adopt a tiny tiger for
your tiny space" and "Admit it, you
want to pet me." Larger graphics
reference donors and the goals of
Best Friends Animal Society.
As visitors are pulled deeper
into the space, further rooms,
experiences and opportunities to
engage are revealed. At the kitten
nursery, visitors can get a close-up
view of staffers caring for teeny
tiny weeks-old kittens. Just past
that area, the path culminates in
a room displaying the dog suites
around a central space. Partially
frosted glass doors with small sniff
holes lessen the noise and distraction of people walking through.
While the cats at the front windows are exposed
to natural daylight, a fine-tuned programmable LED
lighting system helps dogs have a sense of the time
of day, which contributes to their overall wellbeing.
A subtle dim in the morning has a warmer color
temperature and then, as the sun rises outdoors, the
light gets brighter and bluer before dimming and
warming in the evening again.
"It's just a small touch that makes the dogs feel
↑ The free-play spaces
for cats creatively