When Hale County was threatened with a lawsuit for not meeting a state requirement that each Alabama county have an animal shelter, in stepped Rural Studio. Four thesis students with no previous construction experience took on the job, which included the solicitation of $100,000 in material and cash donations to make the budget work.

The dominant design element of the resulting facility (commonly called the “Dog Pound”) is a sweeping lamella roof, selected for its ease of construction and low maintenance costs. Open at both ends, the roof shelters the open kennel while allowing free ventilation. In winter, the animals are kept warm by a radiant heating system in the concrete floor.

The roof structure is lifted off the ground on custom-designed steel legs that are anchored into the concrete foundation, and it was built from conventional 2×8s that were precut and curved on one edge using a jig (to ensure that the hundreds of pieces were identical). The all-important pin connection that's repeated countless times was designed in Rhino under the guidance of consulting engineer Joe Farruggia, who has helped Rural Studio take on increasingly complex projects.

The shelter's framework is sheathed with tongue-and-groove flooring material, then covered in corrugated metal. A ribbon of Plexiglas down the north side allows a view to the street, with a second strip overhead. Two freestanding rooms clad in sheet metal, one at either end, house reception and adoption services and medical evaluation/treatment.

PROJECT TEAM (FALL '05–SUMMER '07): Jeff Bazzell, Julieta Collart, Lana Farkas, Connely Farr