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Canine Rainbow

Habitats for the Humane Society

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Release the hounds! The hue and cry for canine liberation begins this Saturday, October 16, at 10am in front of Two Wachovia Center. Dogs will lead their owners on a short tour of downtown, and all four-legged brothers and sisters are invited to join the parade. This demonstration of canine force kicks off the First Annual Barkitecture Show and Auction, a fund-raiser to benefit the Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC).

Twenty dream houses designed and built by Charlotte's bumper crop of young architects, designers, and builders will be auctioned off in the Atrium at Two Wachovia Center Saturday at 6pm. All proceeds generated from the sale of these fine and fanciful structures will help rebuild the Humane Society of Charlotte, a non-profit recently risen from its own dog day afternoon.

After 30 years of running the Humane Society of Charlotte, founder Patti Lewis stepped down this past June, a year after the revelatory "Death at the Pound" series in the Charlotte Observer. A Mecklenburg County Superior Court judge gave construction executive Katie Tyler control over the non-profit in April.

Tyler cleaned house and kennels. Forty kennels, once clotted with flea market clutter, now have new plumbing and electrical systems, and are soon to be refuge to 40 homeless dogs. This doubles the center's housing capacity. The bogus "No Kill" signs have been removed, but that ambitious goal has not been abandoned. Finding homes for all dogs and reducing the rates of unfettered procreation remain priorities. A new interim Executive Director and three new staff members have been hired. A search committee scans the horizon for a permanent Director.

Tyler's commitment -- to restructure the leadership, governance and financial and physical operations of the Humane Society -- has big canine teeth. HSC associates and staff, our front line protectors of man's best friends, bear that peculiar zeal usually reserved for recently converted evangelicals. A palpable climate of hope and focus has infused the whole crew; they fully intend to build the best Humane Society in the country. Canines and felines howl and yowl in approval.

The rebuilding momentum continues with the construction of these little dog houses.

When architects, designers and builders are cut loose from the CAD cookie cutter, strange and wonderful things can happen. The only serious restriction for this auction is size. There are three choices: Toy (mantle size), Sporting (den size), and Working ("I'm glad we have a quarter acre" size). Gentlemen, grab your hammers.

Woofik's Cube by Anthony Hersey of Odell Associates is a steroidal Rubik's Cube. His house includes discrete interior places for ergonomic eating (would you like to swallow up?), an entertaining area and a small storage compartment for the pickiest of neatnik canines. Hersey, who chairs the Barkitecture Project, will show off his swaggering Cockapoo, Oscar, at the parade.

Defined as a glow-ble home, the Lilooley House is light, lean and internally lit. Built by Jenna Gibson, Morri Freeman, and Kim and Craig Kennedy, this habitable sculpture is a miniature wood-framed home sheathed in translucent Plexiglas. Inside the walls are thin low voltage tube lights. The structure rides on casters. It's a mobile luxury land raft, a glow home for night-challenged, sight-impaired, or light-lonely dogs.

Architect Wayne Camas originally suggested a Barkitecture event in Charlotte as a vehicle to pitch in with The Humane Society's quest. His project is the product of a collective effort inspired by the Prairie Dog School, a recently formed, loose confederation of like-minded, dog lovin', in-house architects. The design would make Frank Lloyd Wright woof, tweeter and howl. His house is a low line, hip roof tribute to the endless American vista out past 485. Go west, puppy.

Ian Ainslie of the Gusaluphitecture Group has built PupTent Plus, homage to the enduring, simple charm of the equilateral triangle. This is a home for the mathematically inclined, minimalist design-demanding dog. It is sheathed with aluminum-covered plywood and wrapped with repeated triangulated ribbing. Simple, well crafted and no-nonsense, this home was custom built, German engineered.

After batting around a number of suggestions, Damian Huneycutt at WMB Architects settled on a home that reflects sustainable, or green, design, a concept that is finding traction in America after many years of unsustainable design. The home will use lightweight concrete and a thermal mass wall to provide passive heating and cooling. A modernist, minimal framework will drive the design. Any dog inclined toward comfort and committed to investment renewable resources will be thrilled to call this home.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Tickets available online at www.barkitecture.org, and at the Atrium or Founders Hall between 11am and 1pm weekdays. For information call The Young Architects Forum at 704-342-9876.

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