Why is Building Layout Important?
A building’s layout is important no matter the industry. Building layout affects operational practices as well as overall efficiency. For an animal care facility like an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, a building’s layout is even more crucial to the overall success of the operations. Building layout can affect three aspects in particular 1) animal behavior and stress, 2) noise mitigation, and 3) disease and odor control. There is not a piece of the facility that the building layout design doesn’t touch.
Building layout effect on animal behavior and stress
Animal behavior is a very important consideration when planning an animal care facility’s layout. The goal should be to control animal behavior as much as possible before even working with a specific animal. Some considerations here include things such as sight lines, animal groupings, size of groupings, strategic pathways through the facility, along with many other considerations. All of these features can have a direct impact on not only animal stress levels but also staff stress levels. Having an environment that engenders calm behavior from animals helps everyone.
Building layout effect on disease and odor
The building layout also has a profound effect on the engineering of the building, specifically on the mechanical and plumbing systems that handle disease and odor. We design buildings to include smaller independent HVAC zones throughout the building to create flexibility and isolatable spaces. We have seen many animal care facilities that do not take this into consideration when designing the layout. There is a proper building flow that goes from intake to quarantine and isolation, to clinic, to adoption, for shelters in particular. Every layout decision from wall heights and construction to room adjacencies can have large effects on animal health and stress. A proper layout that has ample corridor space, proper operational flow, separation of species and ductwork as needed, among many other design aspects helps to make the mechanical and plumbing engineered design even more effective. Creating effective mechanical and plumbing systems is key to mitigate odor and disease, and the close and interrelated relationship between a building’s layout and its engineered systems cannot be stressed enough.
Building layout effect on noise control
Noise control is a major concern for animal care facilities. Loud facilities can bring about stress for animals and staff and can affect animal behavior and health. Noise control engineering is a very useful tool to combat this, and when laying out a building, it is important to keep this in mind. Layout decisions can have a profound impact on noise in the building. This is why it is important to have a noise control engineer involved during this process. Things like noise reverberation and transmission must be reviewed in the context of the layout. For example, what room adjacencies exist, how high should the ceilings be, where should the different species go, what wall treatments should be used; these are all examples of considerations that should be taken into account when discussing a building’s layout.
Work with Building Layout Experts
Overall, the building layout of an animal care facility is one of the most important design considerations in the entire design process. Determining this sets the tone for every other design discipline including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and noise control engineering for the remainder of the project. Because of this, we feel it is extremely important and beneficial to include a floor planning designer that is also an engineer with animal care expertise during the building layout portion of the project. This is a very unique and complex building type that requires an expert in all pieces of the design from interior planning to the engineering like our firm provides. Schedule a virtual consultation with DLI to discuss your upcoming project.