Beck Group Designs, Donates the Nation’s First Live/Work/Play System for Felines

Posted on Thursday, April 14th

Beck Group Designs, Donates the Nation’s First Live/Work/Play System for Felines

Norcross, Ga.  –  Homeless cats living in the largest cage-free, no-kill animal shelter in the Southeast are about to get some chic, eco-friendly new digs, courtesy of volunteer architects and contractors at The Beck Group ( and Norcross-based Royal Custom Cabinets (  The Beck Group has designed ‘cat-o-miniums,’ a unique system of wall units to be installed in the Furkids ( animal shelter in Norcross on April 30, 2011.  Because the design is the first of its kind, Furkids will be the only animal shelter in the country with this innovative, environmentally-advanced live/work/play system for animals.

The Beck Group is an integrated enterprise, a single source for all building services, including architecture, construction and preconstruction.  Furkids is a nonprofit organization committed to combating pet overpopulation.  Its shelter is home to approximately 200 cats waiting for permanent homes. The facility includes 11 colorful, open, airy rooms where cats live and play; a surgical suite staffed by part-time veterinary professionals; isolation rooms for new intakes or cats with special needs; and laundry and administrative areas.

The innovative Beck Group design team solved a problem encountered by Furkids:  how to best utilize existing square footage to help keep indoor cats healthy, happy and engaged. The modular cat-o-miniums utilize formerly wasted wall space while providing nooks for a large number of cats to perch, climb, snooze and explore without sacrificing floor space in the open room.

Furkids cat-o-miniums designed by The Beck Group

Because the angles and colors of the individual cat condos change from level to level, the face of the unit appears to undulate and pop with color.   The movement and color stimulate cats that want to play and explore while also providing the secure, comfortable, isolated spaces for cats at rest.  Passive, private modules are in cool colors, while the active, playful modules are in warm tones.  Each unit can be fitted with a cat bed, and litter boxes fit neatly underneath the structure.  Equally important, the cat-o-miniums are made from rugged plywood and finished with easy-to-clean paint containing no volatile organic compounds and donated by the Sherwin Williams Company (  The Beck Group supplier CSC Flooring, Inc. ( also donated new rolled sheet flooring that provides a low maintenance, easy to clean and impervious flooring surface to complete the cat room renovation.  In addition to the cat-o-miniums, the Beck Group will provide a webcam in the room so Furkids can stream a feed of the renovated cat room on their website.

The Furkids cat-o-minium project is part of The Beck Group’s Community Development Foundation to provide service to the communities where Beck professionals live and work.  In addition, Royal Custom Cabinets, a Beck subcontractor, has donated its millwork production time for the cat condos.  All of the pieces for the modules will be prefabricated using a computerized CNC router.

“Our cross-functional design team included architects, contractors, interior designers, and animal lovers who understand feline needs and behavior, and we approached the Furkids project with a clear set of objectives, as with any client,” said Jesse Plata, project engineer for The Beck Group.  The Beck Group’s challenge was to develop a modular unit with pieces that could be interchanged as required.  The resulting design is a unit without a flat façade that encourages climbing and lets some cats play while others sleep; a unit that accommodates a number of cat beds; a unit made of sustainable material with a surface that is easy to clean; and finally, a system that could be pre-fabricated with joinery that would make it easy for volunteers to assemble on-site.  A long term planning strategy was implemented to guide the process for future expansion.

“Beck is handing over the design guidelines and templates for the cat condos to Furkids, so that future rooms can be fitted out comparably as funds become available,” said Aaron Albrecht, project leader for The Beck Group. Furkids is planning a fundraising initiative to help donors contribute to additional cat-o-miniums in the shelter.

Prior to installation, the cat-o-miniums will be partially assembled and painted offsite.  On April 30, approximately 15 volunteers from The Beck Group will simply need to staple, stack and secure the modular condos into one complete unit at the Furkids shelter.

“Furkids is honored that The Beck Group has chosen us for its public service project,” said Furkids executive director Samantha Shelton.  “Working with The Beck Group has given us insight into how the company has earned its reputation for having the most creative, flexible and accomplished professionals in the design and construction industry.  Because of the give-and-take that occurred during the design process, we know that the final Beck design  will help our cats flourish in their enhanced living space.”

The Furkids mission is to help end pet overpopulation in Georgia through sterilization, high-quality adoption and by providing valuable spay/neuter services and pet care education to people in the community.   To that end, Furkids nurses and neuters all of its rescued animals, keeping them healthy and happy in its cheerful, cage-free shelter or in foster homes until it can place them into permanent homes.

While the shelter is designed for cats, Furkids cares for approximately 500 cats and dogs in its shelter and foster program.  It operates the adoption centers at five PetSmart locations (Mall of Georgia, Midtown, Northlake, Perimeter and Smyrna) and two PETCO locations (Holcomb Bridge and Edgewood) in metro Atlanta.

Since its inception in 2002, Furkids has rescued and altered more than 6,000 animals, placing them into loving, permanent homes