It’s one of those buildings where you slow down to take a better look, trying to figure out what the building is for. It doesn’t look like a typical animal shelter. That’s because the New York Staten Island Animal Care Center is truly focused on caring for animals in need.

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Animal shelter at dusk or dawn

The Staten Island Animal Care Center is dedicated to the memory of Tommy Monahan. He was a resident of Staten Island and aged nine when he lost his life trying to save his pets during a fire. Consequently, the entire design of the care center dedicated to him was created to prioritize the well-being of animals.

Related: An animal reserve in Belgium replaces old, unused buildings

Close view of the floor-to-ceiling windows for natural light inside

The animal holding rooms are on the outside of the building, which has full glass walls. Furthermore, this gives the animals plenty of sunshine to enjoy. The incredible design was also created by Garrison Architects, a firm that believes the outside world should be used to inform building design.

Circular windows for animals to look out of

Meanwhile, office areas are positioned near the center of the building. A polycarbonate envelope then surrounds the entire building to maximize natural light. A recessed clerestory court, a windowed area within the building, creates a pathway for natural ventilation. This means heat energy can be recovered from exhaust air. Furthermore, drought-tolerant plants that are indigenous to the area make up the landscaping design. This creates a low-maintenance, low-water landscape for the building.

Lobby area with natural light

In fact, this animal care center landscape was designed with pets in mind. This creates a truly innovative design and a very unique sort of animal care center. Their well-being is put first, which isn’t something you see in shelters that should have always been about animals.

With designs like this serving as an inspiration, more places designed for animals will actually be designed with them as the focus.

+ Garrison Architects

Images via Eduard Hueber