Best Friends Animal Society Pet Adoption Center, New York

Designed by: RA-DA
For client: Best Friends Animal Society Floor area: 362.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: Social Award

Photo Booth Wall
© Ralf Strathmann

The path loops around and returns visitors to the main space. They pass by a ‘photo wall’ that allows them to take a quick selfie with the Best Friends graphic and New York depicted in the background.

About the Project

Located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, Best Friends Pet Adoption Center houses 15 dogs, 40 cats, and kittens under the care of Best Friends staff and volunteers, The Center is designed for pets from New York City shelters to meet new adopters who can take them home. By being a "gathering place" for local shelters to bring their adoptable animals, the Center is one element in helping Best Friends Animal Society reach their goal of bringing the United States to a No Kill Shelter System by the year 2025. Best Friends initiative is to "Save Them All" as part of this work, Best Friends hosts adoption and fundraising events, and runs a lifesaving pet foster program in partnership with Animal Care & Control of New York City. This Center provides a unique way in which the local population can connect with animals and learn about the very important massage of the Best Friends Animal Society. More than an adoption center, this is a center to educate and engage the public in their effort towards no-kill. This is a new kind of branded experience.

What’s unique about it

We knew as a group that the goal wasn’t only to provide a storefront that connected people to animals but also an experience that communicated the overarching goals and efforts of this adoption center. We wanted to engage people with the message and fold them into the community that the shelter had created. We called this scheme “The Canyon” referring to the grandiose natural landscape at the Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where large red rock formations line passageways through the area. The importance of creating an inviting and fluid environment that pulls people through the space and engages them along the way was key. We mapped a path through The Center and punctuated it with moments of messaging and media to encourage the visitor’s participation in some way to support the cause. The path takes guests past the kitten nursery and culminates in a room that displays the dog suites around a central space. A soft day-to-night lighting system communicates the time of day by dimming to a warmer light in the evening and in the morning, helping to keep the animals healthy and connected to the outside. The warm and natural material selection was informed by the imagery of the landscape at the Sanctuary in Utah. With this as our aesthetic, we also had to make sure that the materials were resilient enough to handle the animals and cleanable and safe so that any potential disease would not linger or transfer. A careful balance of materials makes the space un-institutional and inviting.

Ra Da Best Friends Animal Society Adoption Center 6 Dog Suites
© Ralf Strathmann

The path culminates at the dog suite room.

Ra Da Best Friends Animal Society Adoption Center 5 Meeting Booth
© Ralf Strathmann

Meeting booths provide a space for visitors to meet with a counselor and fill out adoption paperwork

Kitten Nursery Small
© Ralf Strathmann

A Kitten nursery is fitted with incubators and staff and volunteers providing around the clock care to these frail babies. The room functions also as a teaching lab so that visitors can take home and foster a kitten to an age when can be adopted.

Ra Da Best Friends Animal Society Adoption Center 4 Canyon
© Ralf Strathmann

The path continues through the space providing a new ‘reveal’ at every turn.

Action Station Small
© Ralf Strathmann

‘Action stations’ provide opportunities for visitors to engage in the mission even if they are not ready to adopt today.

Ra Da Best Friends Animal Society Adoption Center 9 Cat Freeplay
© Ralf Strathmann

The cat play room is articulated with a series of boxes making up an ideal climbing frame for these furry creatures. Cabinetry hides the messy essentials such as litter and food and water but allows the cats open access.

Ra Da Best Friends Animal Society Adoption Center 1 Entrance And Cat Freeplay
© Ralf Strathmann

Upon entering the space, visitors are offered multiple options for engagement. A large media wall to the right give information on animal that are available for adoption and interweaves the story of Best Friends Animal Society.

Ra Da Best Friends Animal Society Adoption Center 7 Dog Suites
© Ralf Strathmann

The path through the store culminates in the dog adoption room. The dog suites are organized around a central column and are clad in custom glass doors that feature the Best Friends orange gradation from an opaque orange to a clear.

8 Mgl0349 R1 Resized
© Ralf Strathmann

On their way back out, they pass the merchandise wall where they can buy all things Best Friends and support the cause another way.

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