Thomas J. O'Connor Regional Animal Center
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
Operated jointly by several municipalities, this regional facility had to engage in a political juggling act to satisfy the differing desires of each community and be accepted by all. The lighthearted entry requires visitors to enter through a doghouse-like portal with a cutout opening in the shape of a puppy. The eyes and nose of the puppy are actually light fixtures, which create a glow within the silhouetted form, often causing traffic jams at night from startled passers-by. The interior is bright and colorful, with adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens displayed behind glass in rooms designed with creative climbing structures and toys.
This shelter is a huge success: animals are housed in comfortable, stress-free environments; adoption rates are soaring; and it has become a well-received common facility shared among communities that are often at odds over various municipal issues. As is often the case, animals can make humans better people!