We love a good sustainable design challenge, and when you add in furry friends and a great cause? Even better!

This month, a cross-disciplinary team including Jordan Block, Michael Griffith, Lauren Falcon, Meg Schubert, Rachel Bannon-Godfrey, Chelsea Amell, Laura Cale, and Danielle Cacioppo in our Denver office got together to create a doghouse for the BARKitecture Dog House Competition, a joint effort by Denver International Airport and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Our particular design was inspired by Choo Choo, this unbelievably cute Newfoundland CATS dog.

Our particular design was inspired by Choo Choo, this unbelievably cute Newfoundland CATS dog.

The competition challenges local architecture firms to design solar doghouses catering to the personality of one of Denver International Airport’s own Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) dogs.

Our group combined their expertise in urban design, landscape architecture, interior design, sustainability, and architecture to create a doggy dream house that Choo Choo (or any of his canine friends) would love.

Our initial design proposal for Choo Choo's house.

Our initial design proposal for Choo Choo's house.

This doghouse employs a variety of passive solar strategies to provide a comfortable retreat year-round. A shaded open-air entry leads to the lower zone, which utilizes cross-ventilation with interactive rope walls and a roof overhang to keep cool in the heat of the summer.


Reclaimed wood used to frame the structure is 20-year-old cedar from old planter beds. Additional repurposed materials include recycled beer cans from RNL’s Beer:30 (our office happy hour), fans from old decommissioned computers, and plexy we found in our model shop.


The enclosed upper loft is heated by an adjacent aluminum can solar heater, providing the pup with a cozy refuge when it’s chilly.

Carpet donated for this upper area of the doghouse came from Interface, which works to create positive spaces by bringing nature into the built environment. This Moss in Stone is a carpet tile made of 73 percent total recycled content, including recycled fishing nets for the fiber.

With plenty of windows, two stories of space to play and lounge, and open toy storage for Choo-Choo and his friends, any dog is sure to love this house.

Our final design is on display in the outdoor DEN Plaza at DIA now through October. The entire Metro Denver and airport communities are invited to visit the Plaza during the display period and vote online for the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice Awards.


On Oct. 9, a jury will vote on four categories: Architecture, Engineering, Innovation, and Sustainability. Winners will be announced that same day at a public event on the plaza.

All doghouses will then be sold in an online auction to benefit the Denver Dumb Friends League.

Check out all of the doghouses online now through Oct. 5 and be sure to vote for RNL’s dog house here: