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A Twenty-Year Sea Change: San Antonio Humane Society Campus

The SAHS campus architecture is open, airy, and “non-institutional.”

“In 1999, the San Antonio Humane Society operated out of a bunch of old trailers and an unairconditioned metal building on a dusty lot – just across the street from the elegantly restored San Antonio Museum of Art.”

“The contrast between the sophisticated museum buildings and the ad-hoc Humane Society facility couldn’t have been more stunning,” recalls Billy Lawrence, AIA, who has led the campus project since Phase One. “It took a visionary Executive Director and Board to close the wholly inadequate downtown Humane Society facility and establish new suburban headquarters.” This new chapter ushered in a sea change for the Humane Society, and the beginning of a successful twenty-plus year design partnership with Alamo.

San Antonio Humane Society
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio Humane Society Facility: 22,000 SF / Completed 2002
Leeu Naylor Medical Building: 16,000 SF / Completed 2021

Texas regional cues; big porches welcome visitors.
Texas regional cues; big porches welcome visitors.

Phase One: We developed the core Fredericksburg Road facility as a self-contained unit: a clinic, administration space, the education building, two dog kennels and a cattery. Campus circulation centered on a landscaped courtyard “spine,” which doubled as socializing space for potential dog adopters. The intake facility and adoption kennels greeted visitors with a cheerful, upbeat experience, reversing decades of poor public opinion about SAHS. Adoptions and volunteerism saw immediate and remarkable growth, a strong payoff for the move strategy; positive visitor and staff experience remains key to the success of the SAHS campus today.

“It represented validation for all of us, when in 2005, the San Antonio Humane Society Campus won the ‘Good Design is Good Business’ joint award from Architectural Record and Business Week magazines,” Billy recounts. “The new campus for the Humane Society completely changed this organization’s future outlook.”

Phase Two: In Phase One, we ended the “spine” path with a big gateway to future development, having planned to continue the walkway as an organizing element for further growth. We carried lessons learned in Phase One into the development of the Leeu Naylor Medical Building. Our design approach prioritized a positive, upbeat experience for clinicians, balancing the technical requirements of a veterinary clinic with the evolved human factors of a healthy, contemporary workplace. Balancing this are kennel and holding areas for animals with views and natural light, designed to foster a calm and healing environment.

Together we produced an excellent project that has generated the results we sought - a large part of that being the detailed design. Alamo Architects lived up to their reputation in all aspects.

Nancy May, President/CEO, San Antonio Humane Society

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