Divide and conquer

Divide and conquer

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Mar 01, 2005


Clerestory windows bathe the reception area in warm California sunshine, while dropped pendant lighting provides task illumination. For visual appeal, the area features Juparana granite transaction countertops and inset copper and aluminum finishes.
One plum wall says it all: Hospital services are separate and distinct from boarding and grooming services—yet both are easily accessible to pet owners and team members. During a candid conversation with his architect, Dr. David Gordon, medical director of VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital (formerly Arroyo PetCare Center) in Lake Forest, Calif., mentioned he'd like to distinctly separate the hospital and medical functions and the boarding and grooming functions. Yet his idea of using a scalpel handle and blade on the outside of the building to depict that separation didn't quite seem appropriate.

Laughing it off, Dr. Gordon thought that was the end of the conversation. But the imagery Dr. Gordon described sparked a key design solution for architect Rich Rauh of Rauhaus Architects in Lake Forest.


Award-winning floor plan : VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital
"Rich took my idea and ran with it, designing a beautiful, unique hospital with two distinct zones divided by a plum wall that physically and aesthetically defines the building," says Dr. Gordon. "That wall is now a fun design feature that attracts attention from clients and passersby."

The practice also attracted attention from Hospital Design Competition judges. In fact, the well-crafted separation of duties, superb floor plan, clean design, thoughtfully chosen materials, and strong execution won VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital bragging rights as the 2005 Hospital of the Year in Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition, the 40th practice to achieve this distinction.


inside look : Lessons learned from the 40th Hospital of the Year
Fielding frustrations, thinking creatively Shortly before breaking ground, Dr. Gordon nearly called the project quits. He'd already endured a frustrating search for land, zoning issues, public hearings, unexpected fees, and physical constraints from the proximity of the adjacent hotel and the 15 degree descending slope for cars approaching the hospital. The newest wrinkle came when he was on vacation with his family and received a call from Rauh and his builder Gene Kraus, announcing even more problems.

The main sewer line outlined on the original plot plan couldn't be found. "We had to hire a special company to bore into the ground and attempt to find the sewer with an endoscope," says Dr. Gordon. "Talk about Mission Impossible! And $7,500 later, still no main sewer line." Dr. Gordon then called his architect to commission another plumbing plan. And the city required him to construct the new main sewer along another road, which added to the cost.