Animals Care About Great Design, Too

November 11, 2016

Dreyfuss + Blackford with Animals Arts and Unger Construction create $22M state-of-the-art Placer County Animal Services Center with emphasis on animal welfare and adoption.


(AUBURN, CA) – The County of Placer (CA) has completed construction of a new two-story, 29,500 square-foot Animal Services Center in the county seat of Auburn, California that replaces an existing 44-year-old shelter.

“Our new facility provides the highest level of care for dogs, cats and other animals from the moment they enter to the moment they leave for their adoptive homes. It is a highly-functional, cost-effective and well-designed facility, and we look forward to seeing the benefits to both people and animals in this important community investment,” said Rob Unholz, Capital Improvements Manager at Placer County Department of Facility Services who oversaw the project.

The entire facility is designed to encourage people to quickly bond with adoptable animals in light-filled, transparent spaces engaging for all ages. “That special connection one feels with an animal is given space to be found and to grow into something. The success of an adoption center is linked to those first impressions,” said Jason A. Silva, AIA, LEED AP, design principal at D+B and the project’s design architect.

Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture (D+B) is the architect, and Unger Construction Company is the design-build contractor hired to the project. Animal Arts Design Studios, a Boulder, Colorado firm specializing in veterinary hospital and animal shelter design, partnered with D+B on the design of the new center to strengthen the project’s value to the County.

Placer Facility Features

The new center makes a great first impression to the community, creating a welcome destination for visitors focused on animal wellness, care and education. Thoughtfully arranged in a compact plan, program areas promote enhanced operational efficiency, flexibility, safety, and flow. “Shelters providing a high level of care and support the human-animal bond have higher rates of adoption and better outcomes for animals and their new human companions,” said Heather Lewis, Animal Arts principal and the projects animal services designer.

Integrated into the facility design are the latest best practices for disease control, odor control, and acoustics promoting health, reducing stress and creating a calming environment for both animals and people. This new center includes expanded spaces for dogs small and large, domesticated and feral cats, small mammals like rabbits, and exotics like geckos. A new barn and generous paddock are situated in the property’s southeast corner housing goats, sheep, horses, pigs and other farm animals. The building includes a patio area outside the event center, and a large separately-accessible agility yard. A new animal clinic and surgery suite provides services specifically for animals residing at the center. Inside the main reception area, a store named Retails sells items for adoptive owners, and products specifically from the Animal Services Center.

The design of the site protects native habitats, trees, and open space for existing wildlife. In the southwest corner, a new stormwater detention basin blends in with the existing native landscape, and more native oaks have been planted to further blend the existing habitats.

Placer County Animal Services Center is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification rating of Silver.

Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture

Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture, founded in ­1950 in Sacramento, Calif., with an office in San Francisco, is a mid-size firm headquartered in the California capital. The firm serves corporate, public, and institutional markets with solutions achieved through collaboration and innovation. Committed to a sustainable future, D+B brings expertise in architecture, master planning, interiors, graphic design, and construction services. Recently completed projects include CLARA Midtown – E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts at Fremont School, and the Yolo County Woodland Superior Courthouse.

Animal Arts Design Studios

Animal Arts specializes exclusively in veterinary hospital and animal shelter design. They have a proven track record of success with over 600 projects in 40 states, Canada, Dubai, Singapore, Japan, and Australia.

Unger Construction Company, Inc.

Since 1927 Unger Construction Company has set the standard for quality, integrity and innovation in commercial construction in the Sacramento Valley. Unger Construction has become a leader in the design-assist and design-build methods of project delivery retained concurrent with the hiring of the architect for a true design/construction team. By establishing a collaborative effort from the inception of a project, Unger Construction Company succeeds by providing the highest level of service in the industry.