Rover goes green: ASU designs sustainable doghouse

November 2, 2009

The doghouse is getting a makeover for the 21st century, and you can bet your pooper-scooper that Rover has never seen anything quite like this.

Architecture and landscape architecture students from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts have teamed up with PetSmart to create a prototype doghouse that is better suited to your pooch’s needs and is earth-friendly, as well.
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The challenge: design a dog house that incorporates recycled materials, can be easily constructed and transported, provides sufficient ventilation and insulation, and can be easily cleaned. Oh, and it must be a place in which a dog wants to dwell.

The designers are first-year graduate students in the advanced studio design course taught by Jason Griffiths, an architecture professor at Arizona State University. The students took into consideration canine lounging behavior, the natural elements, the American human-dog relationship and research that shows 81 percent of dogs don’t actually sleep outside – but they love to be outside.

“Each fall we look for a project all students can embrace at the beginning of graduate school, and the doghouse design fit the bill,” Griffiths says. “ASU encourages collaboration with industry, and we want our students to creatively push the boundaries of architecture as well as design more sustainable products – those that are sustainable in both materials and manufacturing processes.”

The students had just three weeks to develop their concept. What they created completely re-conceptualizes the doghouse design that generally has been the same since the 19th century – a structure mimicking a human home with gabled roof.

The students’ models range from classy bamboo abodes that double as human bedside tables, to “living” outdoor structures that use natural plants to provide shade, to chic egg-shaped “dog pods” with removable roofs. There are collapsible tent-like structures, a “bark-o-lounger” and a domed structure with louvered roof that throws shade according to the seasonal shifts of the sun.

Sixty designs were narrowed down to 20 and then displayed as models at the PetSmart headquarters in Phoenix. Employees voted on their favorites, and the votes were taken into consideration by a roundtable of judges that eventually narrowed the designs down to three winners.

The winners were awarded $1,000 scholarships from PetSmart to fund the fabrication of their concepts into professional models that will be displayed at PetSmart’s Greenbuild 2009 expo booth Nov. 11-13, in Phoenix. Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture also designed the ASU booth for the Greenbuild conference.

The search for a sustainable doghouse coincides with PetSmart’s Think Twice initiative aimed at, among other things, supporting green products and partnerships.

“PetSmart launched Think Twice in an effort to become a more environmentally sustainable retailer,” says Suzanne Lindsay, the director of PetSmart’s sustainability efforts. “This design challenge allowed us to promote Think Twice while supporting our University Relations program. We’re proud to support Greenbuild as a local business leader on our own journey toward becoming more sustainable.”

According to Lindsay, the long-term goal is continuing development of the project in forthcoming design studios at ASU. It is envisioned that this initial competition will lead to in-depth study and full-scale fabrication of a prototype doghouse developed in collaboration with PetSmart.

Report addresses Arizona’s public mental health system

November 2, 2009

Arizona’s billion-dollar public behavioral health system, which serves 150,000 ill residents and their families, is inadequately staffed and struggling under budget cuts and the demands of a 28-year-old class-action law suit.

These were among the opinions recounted in a new report, “Arizona’s Public Behavioral Health Care System: Critical Issues in Critical Times,” which summarizes the views of a panel of leading behavioral health professionals. The report’s release comes just weeks after Gov. Jan Brewer’s call for a major reorganization of the statewide system. Download Full Image

The report was prepared jointly by Arizona State University’s Center for Applied Behavior Health Policy (CABHP) and Morrison Institute for Public Policy. It draws from a discussion among policy experts held at the July Summer Institute conference hosted annually by CABHP, and offers insights into key system strengths, vulnerabilities and potential solutions

The panelists, all professionals in behavioral mental health policy, agreed that Arizona’s system has a commitment to community-based care that keeps most patients out of institutions. They also applauded the system’s commitment to patient recovery. Among the vulnerabilities cited by some panelists were:

• 35 percent of Arizona adults with serious mental illness do not qualify for AHCCCS/Medicaid, primarily because they are working poor and uninsured, and thus are at risk for inadequate treatment

• Funds for housing and food to support patients’ recovery are essential, yet are not provided to even patients covered by AHCCCS/Medicaid because they are not considered "medically necessary."

• Budget pressures put Arizonans at risk through cuts to crisis services, which not only avert suicides and drug overdoses, but provide vital assistance to local hospitals and local law enforcement officials.

The report concludes by calling attention to what most panelists said is a fundamental misalignment between Arizona’s behavioral health statutes, its executive decision-making and its state funding – particularly for non-Medicaid/AHCCCS-eligible individuals and families. Positive system change is unlikely without a resolution to the decades-old Arnold v. Sarn lawsuit, panelists said, but it is vital to preserve funding levels for mentally troubled Arizonans in order to avert a human and fiscal crisis of major proportions.

Read the report and comment on its findings at">