A WRAP-AROUND COVERED VERANDA, Lone Star-shaped stone detailing, heavy timber, and galvanized steel are elements of Texas regional architecture that shine bright at Crossroads Animal Clinic in Houston, a 2006 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition Merit Award-winning practice. And that's just the exterior. Inside, clients find a lush atrium, spacious exam rooms, and a sick child room—a very different environment from Dr. Kelly McIntyre's previous retail-center location a half mile away.
The clinic: A metal roof and natural-colored Austin stone give the building a Texas-style look. The covered porch allows easy access to the entrance.
"I wanted to build a place where people and pets feel welcome," says Dr. McIntyre. "I didn't want a cold, sterile hospital; I wanted a warm and comforting environment." She also wanted to emphasize pets' role as part of the family. So she included larger exam rooms so that everyone in the young, growing families she finds she's catering to more often can all fit in an exam room and participate.
Catering to families
Inside the clinic, the atrium sets the mood for Dr. McIntyre's goal of a warm, family-friendly atmosphere. "The fountain trickles, there's greenery, and sunlight shines through the skylight," she says. "We also eat lunch and hold meetings or seminars in this space." And during a pet's critical surgery, clients may choose to wait in the atrium, which is a quiet, reflective spot.
Atrium: Natural light filters through the skylights in the 12-foot ceiling to accent the space. A large fountain, plants, and patio-type seating give clients a cozy place to sit.
Dr. McIntyre wanted to build the clinic not only for herself and her staff, but for her clients, too. "They've been so loyal and we really wanted them to feel involved in the whole process. I tell clients that they're part of the reason I was able to do this." And the response has been positive.
It's not unusual, she says, for a client to walk into the clinic and say, "Gosh, the reception area looks like a resort!" "I think the majority of clients were surprised when they walked in for the first time," says Dr. McIntyre. "It blew their minds. They have a concept of what a facility should look like, and ours blew them away."
Covered walkway: The view from the front door toward the west includes the stone-covered veranda. The veranda allows clients to enter and exit the facility without being exposed to the elements.
The facility has attracted new clients, too. The freestanding clinic has more visibility than the old one—partly due to a prominent cupola. "We want to put a light in it so that we're a beacon in the night. It's wired for it; we just haven't done it yet," Dr. McIntyre says.
Still, people that never knew about Dr. McIntyre's retail-center location are now stopping in. Crossroads Animal Clinic's revenue increased 30 percent to 35 percent the first year in the new facility. "If you build it, they will come," Dr. McIntyre says. "They did, and it has been great."