Architects’ pet projects to benefit Animal Medical Center

Nov.November 13, 2008 05:25 PM

Three New York architects have designed pet houses, inspired by their architectural work and their pets, to be auctioned off at an Animal Medical Center gala Tuesday.

The three pet projects — a dog house by William Pedersen, designer of the Shanghai World Financial Center; a birdcage by Sandi Pei, designer of the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong and the son of renowned architect I.M. Pei; and a cat house by Bartholomew Voorsanger, designer of New York’s Asia Society and Museum — are up for auction now on eBay.

The three online auctions will be shut down before Tuesday evening’s “Top Dog Gala,” and in-person bidders can pick up the bidding at whatever price the eBay auctions have reached, said Ann Hohenhauf, a staff veterinarian at the center and gala spokesperson.

Bidders who won’t be at the event can leave bids with the center’s development office, she said. The center plans to start bidding at $15,000, she said. Each item is listed on eBay. The gala is an annual event with awards and dancing, but the pet house auction is a new element thought up by a board member.

The design for the dog house, a spiraling 20-square-foot structure made of Baltic birch plywood with a grass roof, resembles “a very classy den,” built on traditional foundations, Hohenhauf  said. Tesch said it could fit on a New Yorker’s terrace or at a home outside the city.

“We started to look at the most basic form of dog shelter, which … ended up being this plywood box. … It’s a very simple, pragmatic structure that anybody could build quickly,” said Trent Tesch, senior associate principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, who worked with Pedersen on the dog house design.

Tesch and Pedersen then drew from the design of one of their building projects, One Jackson Square, a condominium at 122 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich Village, which has what Tesch calls an “undulating” wall in the lobby. They were also inspired by their own dogs (Trent has a chocolate lab, Bella, and Pedersen has a boxer, Pom-pom).

“Typically dogs, before they rest, they sort of do this little spiral, and then they sort of settle into this position,” Tesch said.

The price tag on the dog house is close to the actual cost of the materials used, Tesch said.

Tesch and Pedersen have even talked about buying back their house — if the bidding doesn’t get too high — in order to donate it to the Obamas to use in the White House for their new dog, Tesch said.

The other architects’ structures were also inspired by their pets or their work, Hohenhauf said. Pei’s birdcage was based on pavilions he designed in China; and Voorsanger, a cat owner, built stairs and other elements that would appeal to cats.

Even with rumbles of a recession, Hohenhauf said she doesn’t think the center will have trouble auctioning off the pet homes, based on pre-event ticket sales. “The ‘Top Dog Gala’ has raised as much money as it always does,” she said.

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