Pluck Atwater Veterinary Center out of its surroundings, and locals would still likely know it belongs in Atwater, California. This small animal and bovine practice—the 2015 Veterinary Economics General Practice Hospital of the Year—brought local flavor indoors, personalizing the space and making clients feel at home. One competition judge said, “This hospital is superbly detailed.” When given the backstory, it’s easy to see just how impressive that compliment is.
The owners were forced into this building project. In 2012, the city took the previous practice building via eminent domain—for the second time. At one time, the group of four co-owners had three hospitals. The first was taken by eminent domain for a bridge expansion nine years ago. They merged the second and third offices into one, which was also taken by eminent domain to make room for an expressway overpass project that leads to a local university.
"The very heart of our community here in the Central Valley is agriculture based. This was the theme we chose for our interior.”
—Dr. Carolyn Chiffelle
The doctors took the opportunity to build fresh and ran with it in a short time period of just 15 months. “We sat down and had a hard talk about what we were going to do,” says co-owner Carolyn Chiffelle, DVM, “We considered folding the Atwater clinic and just operating our ambulatory side of the practice. None of us wanted to incur the large debt associated with building a new hospital, but we had been an important fixture in the community for more than 40 years and provided needed services. And we couldn’t imagine letting our long-term employees go.”
In the end, the doctors decided to make the most of a very difficult situation—and build the hospital they wanted. Making sure the new hospital represented the surrounding community was foremost in their minds.
“The very heart of our community here in the Central Valley is agriculture based,” says Dr. Chiffelle. “This was the theme we chose for our interior."
The hospital has commissioned a stained-glass piece for the lobby as well. The piece will highlight the nearby mountains of Yosemite, row crops and orchards of the Central San Joaquin Valley, quail and California poppies.
Focus on design details
For a full photo tour of Atwater Veterinary Center, click here.