The new Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, located on Pittsburgh’s North Side, was constructed immediately in front of the original shelter, which remained open throughout construction. The former shelter, a converted commercial building that suffered from inadequate space, poor circulation, and insufficient day lighting and ventilation, was subsequently demolished to provide room for surface parking. The new facility is an integral part of the Humane Society’s plans to become an open door, “No Kill”, shelter by 2005. The new 24,000 square-foot structure, which is twice as large as the former shelter, consolidates all animal care and adoption functions on one 16,000 square-foot ground floor. The additional kennel space can accommodate twice as many animals as the former kennel and will enable more resources to be invested into each of the animals. Key to the new plan is a clear division between public animal display and adoption areas and “back-of-the-house” animal receiving, care and holding facilities. A spacious, sky-lit Holding Kennel and Cattery allow newly received animals and strays to receive better medical care, socialization, and training prior to their being made available for adoption. Dogs that are ready for adoption are housed in the new Adoption Kennel, an airy room that features large, glass block runs, clerestory window day lighting, in-floor radiant heating and natural ventilation, a far cry from the stacked cages in the old building. Cats await new homes in a day-lit Cattery that features a community playroom.
The ground floor also houses an expanded Mary McCune Memorial Clinic, a state-of-the-art medical facility that includes segregated cat and dog waiting areas, exam rooms, a treatment and surgery suite, segregated recovery rooms and veterinarian offices. Aimed at providing the public with obedience training and other support programs, the Education Department, located on the second floor, features a 3,000 square-foot training room, which is equipped to accommodate two programs simultaneously. Designed to be user-friendly to the first time visitor, all of the public functions of the shelter (Education, Clinic, Animal Receiving and Adoption), as well as Administration, are directly visible and accessible from the two-story central lobby. The open light well between floors admits daylight to the main lobby and acts as a focal point that allows visitors to easily orient themselves. A stairway, wide enough to accommodate animals on leashes, serves as both a functional connection to the second floor training rooms and an educational tool for part of the training process. Natural light is provided throughout the building through windows and skylights in order to reduce energy consumption and provide a warmer, less stressful environment. Advanced ventilation systems ensure that all areas are provided fresh air separately and that isolation and recovery areas are exhausted directly. Finishes throughout have been chosen with attention toward cleanliness, durability and cost effectiveness. Bold colors are used in conjunctions with the natural lighting to give these durable interiors a warm, friendly feel. Special attention was given to the dog runs, which highlight a clean, attractive durability with the use of glass block walls, stainless steel gates and colorful, seamless epoxy flooring. The exterior of the building, designed to mediate between the large warehouse and industrial buildings in the immediate block and the older, historic commercial and residential structures down the street, consists of rusticated, colored masonry, aluminum windows, metal siding and standing-seam metal roofing. Conceived as an “urban animal pavilion,” the building rejects the image of the “dog pound”, combining references to traditional agrarian structures with an urban scale and sensitivity to the street.