Design for People

Our focus in designing spaces for the care of animals not only considers animals, but their caretakers as well. The built environment can and should positively influence our productivity and performance. We all want to live and work in places that are light, bright, and comfortable. All of our designs consider the benefits of:

  • Sunlight
  • Proper ventilation
  • Ergonomics
  • Noise reduction

Firm History

Animal Arts was first established in 1979 by Lawrence Gates and Mark Hafen as Gates Hafen Architects. In 1986, our very first veterinary client, Animalhouse Veterinary Clinic, won a Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Award. This award helped springboard the firm into specializing strictly in the design of animal care facilities all across the United States.

Today, as Animal Arts, our partners continue the commitment to excellence in animal care design envisioned by our now retired founders.

People & Values

Our first commitment is to our clients, supporting their priorities, goals, and needs. We have been very fortunate in assembling a staff that care greatly about creating imaginative and state-of-the-art designs for people and animals. These people are our most valuable resource and are ready and willing to work with you to find innovative ways to create the facility of your dreams.

Core Values

  • Approachable
  • Practical Innovation
  • Collaborative Communication
  • Compassion
  • 3 R’s – Responsible, Reliable, Resourceful

Working Long Distance

During our years of working on projects across the U.S. and internationally, we have developed systems to streamline our communications with our clients. Through telephone calls and GoToMeetings, we listen to your ideas, needs, and intentions. After each of these conversations, we incorporate the information gathered into drawings or notes that we then share via email or our FPT site for your review and comment.

This dynamic process provides the checks and balances necessary to create a successful project.

Learn More
The Fearless Leaders

Our Partners

Heather E. Lewis, AIA, NCARB, AAA


Heather joined Animal Arts more than 20 years ago, and became a Principal in 2004. She is highly experienced and extremely versatile in every aspect of animal care architecture, having designed numerous award-winning veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, and assistance dog facility projects. She is a member of the Fear Free Advisory Board and an author of the Fear Free standards for veterinary hospital design. Heather also leads the Building and Facility working group for Human Animal Support Services (HASS). She has dedicated her career to creating environments that bring people and animals together.

Vicki J. Pollard, AIA, CVT, NCARB, AAA


Vicki brings unique experience to Animal Arts with degrees in architecture and veterinary technology and is both a Registered Architect in 19 states, and Alberta, Canada, and a Certified Veterinary Technician. She joined Animal Arts in 2006 and became a Principal in 2008. Vicki’s skill in floor planning medical spaces comes from her time spent working day-to-day in veterinary hospitals. She has also proven to have an almost unlimited capacity for keeping track of owner’s requirements, specialized medical equipment, and design details on complex, large-scale veterinary specialty and emergency hospitals. Vicki believes exceptional animal care requires exceptional attention to detail in design.

Sean M. McMurray, AIA, NCARB, AAA


Sean joined the Animal Arts team in 2012 and became a Principal in 2015. Sean has a comprehensive understanding of the construction process and the development of intricate design details. He has worked on a number of complex hospital remodel projects and has a knack for dealing with the intricacies of existing building conditions and phased construction. Sean is passionate about working with our entrepreneurial veterinary clients, helping them to bring their dream hospitals to reality.

Sarah E. Boman, AIA, NCARB, AAA


Sarah joined the Animal Arts team in 2013 and was named a Principal in January of 2018. Sarah’s specialty is in the technical aspects of design, including expertise in BIM and sustainability. She also has a comprehensive understanding of the construction process, integration with engineering systems, and the complexities of animal housing. In her time with the firm, Sarah has worked with an array of clients designing everything from small, animal housing projects, to mid-sized veterinary specialty hospitals, to new facilities for large urban/suburban sheltering organizations. Sarah loves to geek out on the little seen, but extraordinarily important small details of design.

Kelly Rayon, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP® BD+C


Though not with the firm long, Kelly quickly proved that her diverse background prior to joining the Animal Arts team was a tremendous asset in delivering high-quality projects to both our veterinary and animal shelter clients, leading to her becoming a Principal in January of 2021.

Kelly provides detail-oriented support for master planning and programming, as well as having a strong skillset in AutoCAD, Revit, and graphic design. She has extensive experience in project coordination throughout the project design phases and is an ardent advocate for our clients during construction.

The Amazing People That Make It Happen

Our Team