Design showcase: District Dogs in Washington DC

US pet care brand District Dogs has opened its second 'doggie daycare' branch, at the Navy Yard development in Washington DC.

According to Zoom Room – a franchised pet care business in the US – around 50% of US homes have at least one pet, with around 48% having a dog, making the pet care sector worth $72 billion in 2018. An increase in dog care and training facilities has been seen as a result of pooch popularity. 

GTM Architects designed the new District Dogs facility, which offers a retail space, daycare, overnight boarding, and a dog spa. The latest technology has been employed, including in ventilation and drainage, to ensure a clean, safe and fun experience for dogs of all sizes. GTM Architects partner Robin Menge and project designer Megan Milawski were responsible for the design.

Grooming, teeth-cleaning and walking services are also provided at the centre, providing a variety of options to entertain dogs while their humans are at work. Live webcams allow customers to check on their dogs during the day. Customers can also book seasonal photo shoots with their dogs, to create Christmas cards or photo albums.

The store at District Dogs offers branded clothing and accessories for humans as well as for dogs.

New partitions, doors, and finishes were installed at the site to make it suitable for high levels of canine footfall. Durable, flexible, and easy-to-maintain play spaces have been created. A large roll-up door allows two yards to be joined together as a larger space for events such as dog birthday parties.

A neutral black and white colour palette features yellow accents, to reflect the company's brand identity. Customised shelving in the retail area has been used to allow the display of specialised products for dogs and dog lovers.

District Dogs was founded as a dog walking service in 2014 by Jacob Hensley, who was the sole employee. It grew to employ a team of dog walkers before opening its first physical branch in 2016. Located in a store in Washington's Park View it developed a substantial customer base and allowed further expansion.

The Zoom Room report also stated spending on pet care in the country has risen every year since 1994. It describes the sector as recession-resistant due to the multi-generational appeal of pets, and the health and wellbeing benefits associated with pet ownership. Zoom Room reports that the petcare sector in the US is currently outgrowing the rest of the retail sector by 50%.

Washington's Navy Yard is a waterfront area on the Anacostia River. It was previously a naval facility, and is still home to the Naval Historical Center. The area has been redeveloped to provide a sports stadium, offices, and commercial property; more commercial and residential development is still underway.

Photography: Ron Soloman