The new Rob and Melani Walton Papago Park Campus of the Arizona Humane Society, opening in the spring of 2023, aims to bring renewed hope and healing to the animals of Arizona.
The existing Sunnyslope Campus, located on W. Hatcher Road, has stood as a community cornerstone of animal welfare in the Phoenix area for 64 years. Since 2013, the Arizona Humane Society has made it their renewed mission to assist and advocate for animals in need. Throughout the past near-decade, the organization has introduced and revamped several in-house initiatives and programs to further their impact — one of which being the new $46M facility.
The Rob and Melani Walton Papago Park Campus is slated to be the Valley’s one-stop shop for top-of-the-line animal care and welfare. Two stories high, the campus sprawls across 72,000 square feet and encompasses two major buildings, the Nina Mason Pulliam P.E.T. Center and the Watts Family Medical Complex. Alongside its commitment to the highest quality medical and behavioral care, it will also be the home of animal adoption and rescue operations, educational projects and investigations into cruelty cases.
After demolishing their old industrial building, the new project officially broke ground in the buttes of Papago Park on November 4, 2021, where the 202 and 143 Freeways meet. Since then, foundational underground and grading work have been prioritized. This June, the facility will truly begin to take shape as walls are erected and construction continues to move forward. The new campus is contracted by Ryan Companies US, Inc. Animal Arts, an architecture firm known for designing state-of-the-art animal care facilities, has partnered with the Arizona Humane Society to achieve their vision for the renewed space.
The grounds will encompass a myriad of other new features and facilities built to withstand the growing needs of the Valley’s pet population. According to AZHumane.org, these will include the Cece Claudio Feline Critical Care Center, the Lazin Foundation Animal Trauma Hospital (including a teaching hospital to train the next generation of veterinary students), the BISSELL Pet Foundation Spay and Neuter Unit, maternity suites for dogs and cats, an updated lobby and retail store, separate wings for fostering and animal assistance and much more.
“Over the last seven years, the Arizona Humane Society has led the single largest transformation for homeless animals of any community in the U.S., which has led to an 84% reduction in euthanasia and an additional 115,000 pets being saved,” Arizona Humane Society President and CEO, Dr. Steven Hansen said. “All of this would not have been possible without transformational gifts from the Rob & Melani Walton Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Lazin Animal Foundation and the tremendously generous individual donations made by animal lovers in our community … This marks a new era for animal welfare in Arizona.”
The sustainability aspects of the new Papago Park Campus are quite extensive and integrated into its foundations at multiple levels. Given the oppressive heat of Phoenix summers, its mechanical system integrates energy efficiency to keep up with the building’s needs. Native plants, low-flow plumbing fixtures and turf-lined dog runs and yards can be found across the property. These choices will help the facility cut back on water usage, which is especially important regarding drought concerns throughout Arizona.
“Sustainability goals have been integrated into the project through the whole design process by selecting a previously developed site (which minimizes impact), locating spaces within the building based on daylighting needs and selecting durable materials that will last the lifetime of the building,” Sarah Boman, AIA, NCARB and Principal at Animal Arts said.
As a result of a donor’s generosity, the Arizona Humane Society has also added solar panels to the Papago Park Campus, placed above a central corridor outside to provide shade to outdoor spaces as well as parking areas.
“The solar [power] system will generate close to 80% of the facility’s electricity needs and will save the Arizona Humane Society $1M over the next 10 years,” Kelsey Dickerson said, an
On-Air Host and Spokesperson for the Arizona Humane Society. “The decision to add solar came after the Capital Campaign goal was exceeded. As a result, naming rights for the solar array [have] not been formally presented to any donor.”
“The Papago Park Campus was designed to incorporate daylight into as many spaces as possible with special attention on the sick and injured animals who need it the most,” Boman said. “So often, sustainability concepts align with the needs and wellbeing of animals, including us humans! Making good choices for the planet results in better spaces to live and work in.”
As construction on the Papago Park Campus continues, some of the Sunnyslope Campus will remain open, such as the Marge Wright Veterinary Clinic. This helps to meet some of southern Arizona’s highest-priority animal care needs, like providing vaccinations and conducting spay/neuters.
“When the Papago Park Campus is complete, our Sunnyslope campus will be used as an overflow facility in the short term as we continue to build our system of care to meet the needs of our community in the Southwest region,” Dickerson said. “E-commerce thrift operations and some other infrastructure support functions … will remain open at Sunnyslope. Plans are still being made to assess the useful life of the remaining buildings and kennel space to allow AHS to serve as many pets and people as possible.”
“This new space — and the ongoing commitment of this extraordinary team — will make a real and transformational impact for years to come,” Rob and Melani Walton said. “We are proud to partner with the incredible staff and volunteers at the Arizona Humane Society as they modernize their facilities and develop a new gathering place for people and the animals they love.”
Thanks to the developers and donors dedicated to the new Rob and Melani Walton Papago Park Campus of the Arizona Humane Society, the pets of Phoenix and beyond have a bright future ahead of them.