Airline passengers may often complain about being treated like cattle, but starting next year, the 70,000 animals— including horses, pets, birds, penguins and yes, cows—that pass through New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport annually will find themselves in a 168,000-square-foot terminal with far nicer features than even the humans will have access to. The Gensler-designed project, which is led by airport architect Cliff Bollmann, will provide our furry and feathered friends with an environment that will reduce stress and meet veterinary needs, along with facilities for treatments such as “pawdicures.”
The—perhaps unfortunately named—ARK will replace a 10,000-square-foot kennel called the Vetport, which was built in the 1950s. The project will cost some $48 million, and will be the nation’s first privately-owned, USDA-approved animal terminal, providing 24-hour care for traveling animals and those who must spend time in quarantine.
Speaking to NBC, Bollmann explained: “A lot of our design making is in collaboration with veterinarians and consultants to help minimize the amount of stress placed on the animal,” which means that a number of very specific facilities have been designed. Planes will be able to taxi directly to the terminal, reducing the amount of stressful moving between strange spaces for the animals, and once there they will have access to care from Cornell University’s Veterinary College.
Cats will be housed in a space where they have their own trees to climb and hay-lined stalls will accommodate cows and horses. There will also be an aviary for birds and holding pens for goats and pigs. Penguins traveling through the airport will have their own private enclosures that allow them to go about their mating business.
And the dogs that fly in and out of JFK—not just those who must go through quarantine, but those who are too big to fly in the cabin with their owners—will be treated to a 20,000 square foot resort run by Paradise 4 Paws. There the pooches will be able to cool off in bone-shaped splashing ponds, watch flat-screen TVs and be treated to “pawdicures,” and their owners will be able to watch their daily activities via webcam.
As for Gensler, this wasn’t exactly a typical airport design project; for one, they had to figure out what to do with animal waste. The solution? A “poo shoot,” which, much like it sounds, forms an angled floor down which manure can slide into a waiting disposal container.