Architecture SPCA: Designing for a Good Cause

Like me, maybe you have been driving West on I-30 from Dallas towards Fort Worth wondering about the bright blue tower and construction site at the Hampton Road exit. Here’s the scoop: This beauty is the new Dallas SPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center which houses the most adorable animals – dogs and cats of all ages, a bunny rabbit and several guinea pigs – in a spatial concept new and revolutionary to the world of public animal shelters.

Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center: SCPA Exterior | Dallas, Texas | Architects: Hinojosa Architects & Interiors Designs (photo: Hinojosa Architects)

Gus Hinojosa, AIA, Managing Principal, and his team at Hinojosa Architects and Interiors (HAI) incorporated design ideas and research from the veterinarian and retail industries to improve the adoption experience and foster healthier animals. Functional and aesthetic details shaped all areas for the rescued animals, wellness and spay/neuter services, medical wing and surgery suite.

The SPCA is another example of why I believe good (meaning excellent) design and architecture make a positive difference in our lives, and sometimes our pets. Dallas’ newest SPCA shows off the animals. The sunny, colorful place welcomes you to stay and play. In this space, I sense the animals are honored guests; and maybe, if I could read their minds, they would agree. HAI’s vision from the start was to “re-define the standard animal shelter from a depressing experience into one which is enjoyable and enlightening.”

Aren’t I cute puppy? I like my candy-colored dog bed.

At last night’s reception, I experienced this concept with other admirers, and will be back to scout out the cats in their cool condos. I’m in the market for the right furball fit. When you visit, admire the modern design of the scratching posts, notice the signage graphics and sit on a banquette covered with fabrics by William Wegman, the artist best known for his Weimaraner photographs.

Even in the world of non-profits, good causes and architectural design, there’s always a bottom-line consideration. Happily, the Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center response to-date is working as seen on January 2nd, the first day of operation, when 24 animals were adopted and yesterday when 35+ animals found new homes.

One museum – two must-see shows

The Nasher Sculpture Center scored again this weekend with the opening of a new work the museum commissioned by 30-year old Syrian-born artist, Diana Al-Hadid. Much of her work and this site-specific piece, “Gradiva’s Fourth Wall,” evoke the atmosphere of ancient archeological digs which was the same theme that inspired Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Renzo Piano, when he was hired to design the Nasher building and site.

Last month, I also attended the opening of “Tony Cragg: Seeing Things.” This was the first USA retrospective in 20 years of Tony Cragg, a 62-year old British artist. Cragg’s body of work fully inhabits the Nasher space, greeting you on the Flora Street front sidewalk and then extending its welcome into the back gardens. Both are shows by well-respected contemporary artists whose interests are multidisciplinary with thought processes that intersect sciences, physics, philosophies, literature and anything that captures their interest.

What is the effect on my creativity? I have observed that over the past 4 years that I’ve been involved with the Nasher, as a volunteer, fan and advocate, that my own paintings have become more textural and 3-dimensional – a totally subconscious direction. There was no conscious plan to shift my materials and style. It is simply happening, and it is a direction I like.