Brownsville Animal Regulation and Care Facility
Brownsville, Texas

Its location on the US/Mexican border introduced many factors that made this animal shelter project a unique challenge: a poor economy, low public priority, small construction budget, low operating budget, very few staff and an exceptionally high number of stray animals. The existing shelter was more than 50 years old and was falling apart. Many doubted a new shelter would make any difference.

To keep costs down, the new shelter was constructed with local materials. Visual interest was given to the entry by creating portal columns in the image of a make-believe animal. The interior adoption mall is broken into segments with colorful animal silhouettes forming arches in the high clerestory space. The kennels are designed to hold the large number of animals expected and at the same time can be quickly and easily cleaned by relatively few staff.

What started out as a negatively viewed necessity turned into a cheerful public space that could be operated on a very small budget. The local population has embraced the shelter with community pride, and school groups visit regularly. But more importantly, the local attitude toward pets has shifted toward the positive. This shelter has helped to strengthen the human/animal bond.

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