Meyer & Allen Associates

Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA

Location:Pasadena, CA
Size:16,800 sq. ft.
Awards: 1996 - AIA/Pasadena Chapter Merit Award, 1994 - Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Award

The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA’s campus embodies the combination of a state-of-the-art hospital facility with a very humane environment for animal control.  The project combined new construction with historic preservation to achieve a harmonious blend of historic structures and modern facilities while providing greatly expanded capacity for animal control.

The design for the Humane Society’s campus comes from and revolves around the concept of a garden - a garden with trees, vine covered trellises, gazebos and hanging flowers...  Why a garden?  It was the appropriate solution to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Further the mission of the Humane Society to provide humane treatment for the animals entrusted to their custody, increase adoptions of stray animals and reduce pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering of impounded animals.
  2. Preserve and renovate two historic existing structures on the site: the Administration Building, built in 1932, by Robert H. Ainsworth; and the original garage, built in 1929, by Myron Hunt.
  3. Add a 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art spay/neuter facility, administrative facilities and public outreach education spaces within this historic and romantic setting.


The concept of a garden furthered all these objectives:

  • The Humane Society’s garden, like the backyard of a single-family house, is an appropriate and traditional place to house animals.  Indeed, the Pasadena Humane Society has had outdoor kennels since its inception.  While the exception rather than the rule in animal control facilities, this kennel model significantly reduces the transmission of airborne respiratory diseases.  Enclosed “cubbies” and heated floor slabs provide the needed “creature comforts” in inclement weather.
  • The garden concept also became a marketing concept to increase adoptions, providing a pleasant retreat for workers from the surrounding industrial buildings to eat lunch and an inviting place for potential adoptees to stroll through while viewing animals up for adoption.
  • The garden concept at once provides a link and a degree of separation between old and new buildings.  A direct addition to the original Ainsworth building would have severely compromised the historic significance and quality of the facility.  Because of this, the spay/neuter clinic was placed at the north end of the site to give the Ainsworth building “breathing room”.


The placement of the new spay/neuter facility at the north end of the site, in combination with the administration building and the cat ward at the south end of the site, provided two anchors, similar to the layout of a shopping mall, which would ensure continuous traffic flow north and south across the site.  Placed along this route are the puppy kennels and the wild animal rehabilitation environment (significant draws for people visiting the Humane Society).  Also on this path are gazebos which contain aviaries and adoption rooms where clients can visit with animals prior to adoption and watch videos about animal care.  Like the retail mall concept, patrons move through the center of the site between the clinic and the administrative building and are drawn to the center by the puppy kennels and wild animal cage.  The effectiveness of this concept is seen in the tripled adoption rate (relative to the rate prior to start of construction) at the Humane Society since completion of construction.