1100 Architect designs a fetching, state-of-the-art hydrotherapy center for dogs in Manhattan.
Henry Urbach -- Interior Design, 1/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
BONNIE S K-9 IS A unique hydrotherapy facility for dogs located in Manhattan's Chelsea district. Designed by 1100 Architect, the center joins a holistic dog food preparation facility and veterinarian's office to a fully equipped rehabilitation center with a pool, day boarding cabins, and an outdoor garden. The facility is named for one of owner Jody Richard's dogs, a German shepherd called Bonnie, who was mistreated as a puppy and lost the ability to walk; thanks to a successful rehabilitation program, Bonnie now carries herself on her front legs with the aid of a prosthetic device that holds up her hind quarters. Bonnie's K-9 treats dogs recovering from orthopedic and neurological surgery, as well as those suffering from arthritis and other ailments, with massage swim therapies and other customized treatments.
The 1,500-sq.-ft. space occupies a former meatpacking facility with a storefront on Ninth Avenue. 1100 Architect, under the direction of partners David Piscuskas and Juergen Riehm, gutted the space and removed two walls to open a large area at the rear for the swimming pool and outdoor garden. A glass storefront at the sidewalk exposes the swimming pool and garden to passersby, providing an interior view that is at once odd, intriguing, and animated.
According to Piscuskas, the mandate was to create a space that was "as much for dogs as for people. It had to be inexpensive to build, easy to maintain, and have a playful quality without being in any way corny." 1100 went well beyond the pragmatics of the program to imbue the space with a refined Modernist sensibility and a clear attitude about spatial and visual procession from street to garden. Two entrances were installed: one opens directly to the reception area and food preparation room; the other gives way to a passage finished with a dark gray concrete floor and gray walls that leads back to the swimming pool. The pool itself is 10 ft. by 15 ft., ample for therapies that mostly involve massage and swimming in place. The walls of the pool area were finished with a sturdy cementitious board that reads as exterior siding; the concrete floor was tinted a rose color; and a long band of polyvinyl membrane runs along the ceiling above the water, reflecting sunlight from the garden and the water beneath along its shimmering white surface.
The garden is reached across a wooden deck that covers mechanical equipment. Dogs are free to spend time outdoors and enjoy a grassy lawn edged with bamboo. In cold weather, the glass façades at the front and rear go steamy, further entwining the more unusual aspects of the program with the clarity of the architectural idea. Ultimately, in the words of Piscuskas, "the project was about making a good room, and creating a sense of anticipation leading towards it." Fresh, modern, and anything but clinical, the canine swim center offers the city and its four-legged friends a room that is very good indeed.