Lighting design for a better pet-adoption experience

May 24, 2024
Thoughtful lighting for a new animal shelter and adoption center in Texas layers natural and electric light to uplift the spirits of all those who enter the facility.

A pet shelter can feel sterile and uncomfortable to displaced animals — and potential adopters. Shelter construction and space-planning choices are influenced by the need to house and care for many animals in a safe, clean and easy-to-sanitize environment. Some shelters are housed in spaces originally designed for other purposes, creating interior spaces with little access to fresh air or daylight.

When it was time to design a new facility, the staff at Grapevine Animal Services Shelter and Adoption Center worked with Quorum Architects Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, to create a modern facility with purpose-built interior spaces and ample access to fresh air and daylight. Dedicated spaces for a veterinary clinic, an enclosed sally port for pet transportation, a public education room, and volunteer and event-dedicated areas ensured the facility could meet many needs.


A principal at Quorum Architects, David Duman, AIA, worked with personnel from the city of Grapevine to realize the shelter staff’s vision for the design and functionality of the new center. Primary goals prioritized optimizing the well-being of the animals, boosting staff morale, and providing a welcoming atmosphere for visitors that helped potential adopters feel at ease and encouraged interaction with the animals to streamline the adoption process.

During the planning stages, the team at the Grapevine shelter accentuated their desire to fill the interior spaces with abundant natural light. At the same time, specialized zones such as medical service and recovery areas, grooming spaces, isolation rooms and laundry required functional lighting suited to the task.

Daylight and integrated lighting

One of the areas of expertise of Quorum Architects is animal care facilities. The firm utilized that experience to create a welcoming, inviting facility to attract visitors to the animal adoption facility as a destination place for the city of Grapevine. The 13,245 ft2 facility caters to the many needs of a busy shelter.

“The combination of natural daylighting and LED lighting has been a majority contributor in achieving this design goal, in addition to the bright and neutral colors and whimsical animal silhouettes throughout the interior and exterior of the Grapevine Animal Services facility,” said David Duman of Quorum Architects Inc.

SIDEBAR: Tubular daylights bring light to interior spaces

Quorum Architects collaborated with NTX Building Products, the local Solatube International distributor, to integrate nine units of SolaMaster 750 DS.

“We made sure every animal living space has natural daylighting, through windows or Solatubes, to improve the animals’ circadian rhythm. This assists in improving the animals’ overall stress levels and health, which will assist in them finding their forever home,” Duman said.

The roof-mounted tubular skylights, made of reflective materials, transfer daylight to interior spaces. Visible as a diffuser and housing at the ceiling, the tubular skylights reduce glare yet introduce daylight while avoiding the transfer of UV and infrared wavelengths that can fade finishes or overheat interiors.

“Prioritizing natural daylight with Solatube tubular daylighting devices has significantly enhanced our new shelter and adoption center. The abundance of natural light has positively impacted our environment, reducing stress, improving moods and fostering a healthier atmosphere for all. It’s been transformative for our animals, staff and visitors alike,” said Kristina Valentine, a certified animal welfare administrator (CAWA) and the animal services manager at Grapevine Animal Services Shelter and Adoption Center.


The lighting design includes strategically utilizing fixtures, lighting controls and daylighting to enhance the functionality and ambiance of the pet shelter.

In the adoption lobby, corridors and adoption interview area, standard LED troffers and round downlights as well as commercial tubular skylights were used. Functional lighting from Amerlux Commercial Interior Lighting Products along with SolaMaster 750 DS tubular daylighting devices from Solatube infuse the interior spaces with light.


Dimmable Slot 4 recessed linear lighting by Mark Architectural Lighting from Acuity Brands is used in the dog kennel rooms. “Kennels and corridors exclusively used recessed linear LED lighting to provide a high quality, high uniformity lighting scheme with an architectural appeal,” Duman said.

The fixtures’ recessed construction provides a clean design, and they work well in wet or high humidity spaces, Duman noted.

In the cat receiving and adoption rooms, commercial tubular skylights from Solatube and VTL-VT Series LED troffer lighting by Lithonia Lighting from Acuity Brands provide a mix of natural and artificial lighting to ensure the space is adequately lit day and night. The fixtures are dimmable so the shelter can reduce energy use when the rooms are washed with natural daylighting.

In the cat play and meet/greet areas, 6" open and wall-wash downlights by Lithonia Lighting from Acuity Brands are mounted in the hard ceiling.

Dimming is provided in all animal dwelling spaces, and occupancy sensors were utilized in offices, corridors and restrooms. Such additions allowed the shelter to reduce energy use by avoiding lighting in unoccupied spaces. No automation was used in animal care areas or kennel spaces, however.

Duman added, “Relay panels were used to implement the IECC-required control for the building exterior and parking lot lighting as well as the sally port,” a heated, ventilated drive-through space where animals are moved into and out of the shelter.

About the Author

Linda Becker

Linda Becker is editor-in-chief of LightSPEC (formerly Architectural SSL). She has more than 20 years of experience in B2B publishing, primarily focused on manufacturing and process applications. Since joining LightSPEC, she spends a lot of time appreciating lighting and the essential role it plays in how each of us experiences the world. 

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