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Set in a community rapidly transitioning from farming to residential, San Jacinto Animal Shelter was built to provide shelter, pet adoption services and education, as well as veterinary medical aid in Riverside County, CA. In a nod to the local design aesthetic, architects at Harley Ellis Devereaux created a complex reminiscent of the area’s agrarian roots. Echelon masonry products were specified to help bring this project to life. “Despite its humble architectural expression, the planning was actually extremely complex and required extensive interface with the users,” said Harley Ellis Devereaux Senior Project Designer Gary Leivers, AIA, RIBA, LEED AP. The program for the San Jacinto Animal Shelter included large spaces for animal housing and holding areas, and also administration offices, along with a full veterinary surgical suite. One important criterion was to create a welcoming area and a relaxing environment that encourages visitor interaction with the animals awaiting adoption and to provide space for animal owners reuniting with their lost pets. Multiple structures are clustered on a 10-acre site with the 14,000-square ft. main administrative building housing several key customer and animal service departments, including adoption services, administrative services, community outreach and education, field services, and animal medical services. In addition to the main structure, the receiving area, kennel and maintenance/warehousing structures are integrated around a nicely landscaped central outdoor courtyard. The result is a campus-like complex inviting to both animals and people. Echelon® Provides the Perfect Block for the Award-winning San Jacinto Animal Shelter Despite its humble architectural expression, the planning was actually extremely complex and required extensive interface with the users. — Gary Leivers, AIA, RIBA, LEED AP Harley Ellis Devereaux According to Leivers, although the buildings accommodate a wide range of functions, they share a common design theme that references the local vernacular of simple forms and economic building systems. The main building is constructed with concrete masonry units featuring a honed surface in a neutral color that matches the ground material. The loadbearing capabilities of the architectural block provide the primary structural system, and help reduce the load on the mechanical systems through the block’s inherent mass, saving energy. Since the animal holding areas must stand up to intensive maintenance and also remain an attractive backdrop for pet adoptions, a glazed masonry unit was specified. Its self-finished characteristics and availability in a wide range of colors was also a benefit as the designers used it to create a pixilated interpretation of the surrounding rural landscape. “Concrete masonry is the key to the campus character, and that character helps bring the need for better treatment of animals to the forefront,” said Leivers. While some ground-textured block outside the animal holding areas was supplied by Southern California distributor, Angelus Block, Echelon’s Astra-Glaze provided the majority of the project’s structural CMU. Astra-Glaze SW+® glazed units are pre-faced architectural concrete masonry blocks with a thermoset glazing compound permanently molded on one or more faces. This glazing compound is cured and heat-treated in gas-fired tunnel kilns, thus becoming an integral part of the unit. The glazed facings are molded in individual molds, ensuring dimensional uniformity regardless of minor variations in the block. Astra-Glaze was chosen for the San Jacinto Animal Shelter because a variety of its benefits were perfect for the project. The product is easy to clean, graffiti-resistant, repels water and resists mold. Unfinished CMU or other products are more absorbent, which means they would stain easily and release waste and other odors back into the shelter environment. However, Astra-Glaze has nearly zero absorption blocking odor from the stall walls to create a healthy environment for the animals and employees, while providing an attractive area for potential owners to view pets. In addition, the glazed surface never needs painting or sealing, which adds to the low life cycle costs. “Several years back I attended a convention held in Sacramento catering to animal kennel owners,” stated Tom Divelbiss, Independent Sales Representative, Trenwyth® Block by Oldcastle®. “I was surprised at all the unsolicited positive comments I got from kennel owners who used Astra-Glaze and said they would definitely use it on any new kennel construction due to the sanitary features and ease of maintenance.” The San Jacinto Animal Shelter won an “Award of Merit” in the 2015 NCMA/ICPI Concrete Masonry Design Awards of Excellence. The program recognizes architects, designers, and product producers for their outstanding use of concrete masonry and hardscape products. The lead design judge spoke about how sad animal shelter viewing areas can be and how colorful and cheery San Jacinto looked, commenting that is was an attractive way to use masonry to showcase the shelter’s adoption-ready pets. Astra-Glaze is available in thin veneers for retrofit of existing buildings, but it is often used as a structural block that offers a single-step finished surface in lieu of a structural wall with secondary installation of ceramic tile. For more information please visit www.astraglaze.com.