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International Fund for Animal Welfare

designLAB Architects

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International Fund for Animal Welfare

Project Status


Year Completed



60,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost


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Project Description

Reinvented Workplace
Supported by two million contributors globally, the new World Headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) represents the paragon of designLAB’s mission to foster communication and education in workplace environments.

As one of the largest international animal welfare organizations in the world, IFAW has offices in fifteen countries and a staff of more than two hundred experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists. The new Headquarters were designed to accommodate IFAW’s significant growth in the past several years, bringing together the 165 employees dispersed over various properties on Cape Cod.

At the end of an era of ambitious expansion, obsessive extravagance and an attitude of “bigger is better” in the corporate world, IFAW set the goal for the HQ of modesty, simplicity, and ecological responsibility and financial accountability. With the help of designLAB architects, IFAW set out to re-launch its domestic identity with a bold new headquarters that breaks the mold for work environments, and sets a precedent for low-impact, sustainable development.

Smaller is Better
Creating a ‘fundamental’ change to the workplace typology, the new World Headquarters for IFAW took 165 employees - housed in enclosed offices - and brought them all into an ‘open, flexible, loft’ environment for 200, where the assignment of square footage per person was reduced by 50% - while the amount of ‘collaborative’ workplace was greatly expanded. The arrangement fulfilled the CEO’s goal to facilitate collaboration and communications among IFAW’s 12 departments.

Renewing the Site
IIFAW identified a commercial site for the development that after initial analysis revealed it was contaminated. By taking on the reconstruction and clean up of a contaminated site, they negotiated an expedited approvals process (saving 8 months) and the waiver of over $800K in mitigation expenses.

Stephen Stimson Associates transformed the brown field site into an asset by creating a ‘restored’ Cape Cod farm meadow. The site design features re-establishment of a habitat with native shrubs, trees, and grasses; rainwater treatment through the use of bio-swales and rain gardens that filter rainwater runoff and the on-site treatment of all wastewater produced in the building through a state-of-the-art Amphidrome septic system. The meadow becomes the focus of the workplace and the signature feature of the HQ creating a new identity where landscape and building are in harmony.

Energy Savings
The building is designed to consume 32% less energy compared to a typical office building, 45% less energy for heating and air conditions, and 22% less energy for lighting compared to similar buildings meeting the latest energy standards. Other sustainable initiatives include materials with high-recycled content, and certified wood from managed forests, such as the Mahogany colored Jarrah. In addition, passive solar technology is utilized on the wraparound glass curtain-wall to maximize the benefits of daylighting while minimizing the need for heating & cooling.

Integrated Delivery System
The Owners’ Project Manager, Contractor, and Architect/Engineering Team formed an early partnership to fast-track the process and control cost. With the Integrated Delivery System approvals, pricing, and early release packages advanced with the design schedule, the team was able to condense what would have been a typical 37-month design and construction process to 26 months. Using the latest BIM technology helped to accelerate schedule and ensure accuracy with early estimates.

Enhancing Mission
Fearing cost overruns, IFAW chose to abandon LEED certification as a project goal after their first building attempt. The Design and contractor teams’ previous experience with LEED-certified construction allowed the final project to attain LEED Gold Certification while achieving target costs. The corridor-less building design provides for a ‘collaborative walk’ that connects departments and shared workrooms. The workrooms and walk are infused with exhibits that communicate IFAW’s values and mission by featuring IFAW’s campaigns as well as highlighting the sustainable features of the new development. This model work environment - where employees can bring their dogs to work - is imbued with IFAW’s mission: ‘to provide a better world for people and animals’.
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