Project Detail


World Headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare

Yarmouth Port, MA United States

designLAB Architects


Project Description

Sometimes the best architecture is borne not of solving problems, but turning them into assets. The new headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) headquarters is a project that does just that. IFAW's search for an affordable Cape Cod location ended with a tract along the historic Old King's Highway, occupied with the remains of a long-defunct wholesale plant nursery. "We took soil samples expecting to find pesticides," recalls Robert Miklos, principal of Boston-based designLAB Architects. "We didn't expect to find extensive heavy-metal contamination, suggesting that the site had once been a landfill."

A minimally contaminated site suddenly became a brownfield. Rejecting the simplest solution of capping the surface and building over it, IFAW chose the more complicated route—the removal of all toxins from the soil to a depth of 10 feet and the construction of a traditional Cape Cod landscape on a drumlin with native vegetation, rain gardens, and bioswales.

The centerpiece of the landscape is a large meadow around which the architects placed three buildings. "A single structure of 55,000 square feet would have been out of character with the region's vernacular architecture," explains Miklos. "The [buildings] are modeled on the classic Cape Cod barn." The shed interiors are lofts with large expanses of glass. While the open plan reduces the square footage of individual workspaces, it responds to IFAW's unique corporate culture by providing bigger conference "collaboration" rooms, private telephone rooms, and open staircases to encourage interaction.

An innovative structural system also opens the interior. The floor plates are column-free at the along the walls around the courtyard, where a screen of wood louvers hangs from the roof by steel straps. Views out of the floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the natural environs, and thus the site reclamation, proving, ultimately, that the effort was worthwhile.


Project Details

World Headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare
Shared by:
Firm Name:
Project Team:
    Robert Miklos, principal-in-charge; Robert Miklos, project architect; Sam Batchelor, project manager; Robert Caddigan, senior technical architect; Brent Stringfellow, project designer; Whitney Hudson, project designer; Scott Slarsky , project designer;
  • General Contractor: JK ScanLan Co 
  • Landscape Architect: Stephen Stimson Associates 
  • Mechanical Engineer: TMP Consulting Engineer 
  • Electrical Engineer: TMP Consulting Engineers 
  • Plumbing Engineer: TMP Consulting Engineers 
  • Civil Engineer: Down Cape Engineering 
  • Structural Engineer: ODEH Engineers 
  • Geotechnical Engineer: Norfolk Ram 
  • Lighting Designer: Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting 
  • Owner's Representative: KVA Associates 
  • Furnishings: Leslie Saul Associates 
Project Type:
Project Status:
Project Size:
    55,000 sq ft
Construction Cost:

Specified Products

Weyerhaeuser Jarrah Louvers

The exterior decks and wood louvers are constructed of jarrah, a species of eucalyptus that is abundant in Australia and has a 10—15-year growth cycle. Similar in appearance to mahogany, jarrah is fire- and rot-resistant and requires no chemical treatment. Weyerhaeuser sources jarrah hardwood lumber from Gunns Ltd. Jarrah grows in Western Australian forests, which are managed by the local forest ministry.

F.R. Mahony Septic System

DesignLAB Architects, in collaboration with Down Cape Engineering, chose an amphidrome septic system because they wanted a process that would filter wastewater before returning it to the water supply. The amphidrome system uses a bioreactor process, forcing wastewater through a deep bed of sand to clean the water. The system is designed to remove soluble organic matter, nitrogen, and suspended solids within a single reactor, as opposed to other systems that require multiple steps. Since it removes nitrogen, the amphidrome system is also considered a biological nutrient removal process.



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