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brick facility with green steel roofing

Dane County Humane Society

Madison, WI

Design accomplishes function within budget, construction accommodates wetland-adjacent site

Depression era facility hinders growth

Founded in 1921, the Dane County Humane Society housed animals at a local pet hospital before building its first shelter on Pennsylvania Avenue. The shelter was expanded in 1985, but 15 years and several partnerships later, they were once again bursting at the seams.

A key partner in the community

The humane society has an adoption guarantee, accepting all animals in need. They also serve as the holding facility for seized and stray animals in Dane County, reuniting more than 1,000 lost pets with their families each year, and assisting the City of Madison in cases of abuse and neglect. More than 80 partner rescues and shelters throughout the state and nation, and four satellite adoption locations in the Madison area, extend the nonprofit’s capabilities.

34,100 square foot facility
Large covered front entry
Brick exterior with metal roofing
Side view with clerestory and end-wall windows
Outdoor dog exercise area
Back view with overhead doors

Abandoning the “band-aid” approach to build new

The organization determined that continued remodeling and maintenance wasn’t going to solve their facility-related issues; the building and site were simply too small.

They needed a low-maintenance, long-lasting facility that would accommodate the roughly 9,000 pets in their care each year, include space to facilitate adoptions and fundraising activities, and inspire support.

After a comprehensive RFP and evaluation process, the Dane County Humane Society chose NCI-Roberts Construction for its nonprofit construction experience and ability to build consensus within committees.

Design, fundraising and site challenges

The architect chosen by the humane society failed to meet expectations, so NCI-Roberts stepped in to complete the design. We worked closely with staff to make sure it emphasized function, incorporated donor recognition and stayed within budget.

The final estimate of $5 million was a significant sum for the nonprofit to raise, but the design and plans were an asset to their communication plan.

The humane society had pre-selected a 29-acre wooded site off of Voges Road, adjacent to wetlands. Saturated soil was a constant challenge during the construction process, and NCI-Roberts had to ensure soil quality and wetland delineation.

Specialized mechanical systems were employed to meet the unique needs of an animal holding facility, preventing the spread of disease.

Secure front entry with stainless steel ribbed accent wall
Cage free cat display
Large, interactive corridor connecting the veterinary clinic, animal viewing, reception and staff areas
Donor appreciation wall
Exam and surgical room
Dog viewing room with specialized epoxy floor and wall systems, aluminum stainless steel enclosures and masonry walls
Tile flooring allows for easy cleaning
Cat viewing room with masonry walls
Stainless steel cages
End-wall windows
Retail and adoption area
Hallway to educational space and training and event space
Educational space
Large training and event space
Hallway to offices
Office and cubicle space

Lasting facility accommodates expansion

More than 15 years after construction, the facility remains state-of-the-art and low-maintenance. Among its most appreciated features are:

continued growth and support

NCI-Roberts provides ongoing maintenance and has since completed an office space addition, work on the society’s west side satellite location, and most notably, a 1,200 square foot remodeled Wildlife Center.

The Wildlife Center includes a finished space for interior cages, a kitchen and additional bathroom, plus all new electrical, HVAC, plumbing and windows. New insulation was donated by Rockweiler Insulation, NCI-Roberts was happy to support the cause by donating all new flooring, and kitchen cabinetry was donated by Madison Veterinary Specialists, another client of the JG Development family of companies. The center is now a safe, functional home for wildlife such as bats, rodents, song birds and baby mammals.

In 2021, NCI-Roberts Construction donated planning and labor to complete a deck replacement for the Wildlife Center and secured material donations from partners Builders FirstSource and Brunsell Lumber. Used as a “washing deck” for items too large for utility sinks, the lumber was worn and slippery, so replacement composite boards were a valuable upgrade. “Our Wildlife Center staff and volunteers have a much stronger, safer place do the dishes!” said a DCHS representative. “Our wildlife patients for years to come will benefit from this donation!”

Existing washing deck
Replacement under construction
New composite deck
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