The Marion Regional Humane Society called on the SIUC School of Architecture to help design a new facility.
The Society is the only nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter in Williamson County. The dilapidated and crowded building was the reason Jenny Richardson, a volunteer, said she decided to contact the School of Architecture.
“I recognized the need at the Humane Society,” she said. “They are so over-crowded that most dogs are sent to other shelters or homes.”
Richardson said because of overpopulation in southern Illinois, there is not enough room at the shelter. She said the purpose of the new building would not only be to house more animals, but also to help control the overpopulation problem with a spay and neuter clinic.
Norman Lach, assistant professor at the School of Architecture, said he was excited about the project from the moment Richardson contacted him.
“What many people don’t know is since the design of the Wall and Grand complex, we have been strongly encouraging student designs, especially in the Carbondale community,” he said.
Lach said he first approached his undergraduate assistant Shannon Jones about the project.
Jones, a senior from Des Plaines studying architecture, said originally she and Lach designed the project to be a competition between new undergraduate students in architecture. She said they eventually realized there was too much work involved, so she recruited two graduate students to take over the project.
Sean Hartman, a graduate student in architecture from Fort Wayne, Ind., and Chase Clark, a graduate student in architecture from Greenville, Ky., have since put more than 300 hours of work into the project.
Hartman said he originally took on the project because of the cause.
“Being able to help a local cause is great, but the animals are what really inspired me,” he said.
Jim Bowless, a Humane Society board member, said the students tried to involve the shelter as much as possible.
“At one point during the project, Chase and Sean were calling me almost every day, asking me for my input and expectations,” he said. “We ended up building a great relationship.”
The final project was revealed Friday at a charity event for the Humane Society. Aside from sharing images of the new building, the students also created a 3-D model of the floor plan.
Richardson said the event was the first step in raising money for the new shelter.
SIU President Glenn Poshard and his wife showed up to the event and presented the Humane Society with a $3,000 check.
“The fact that the students at our university have the opportunity to reach out and help the community is just fantastic,” Poshard said.
Clark said from this point on, his, Jones and Hartman will have minimal involvement.
“We will still continue to correspond with the Humane Society, but from now on we will probably play an administrative role,” he said.
Despite the amount of time already put into the project by architecture students, the facility is still in the planning stages, with more fundraising necessary for the Humane Society’s plan to move forward.
Lach said he plans for more projects like this in the future.
“This project was kind of a pilot for a new program called design center collaborative,” he said.
Lach said the program will run through the intern development program, which is what all architecture students must go through to become licensed. He said the center will be a place for students to work on projects for the community, similar to the Humane Society project.