A gutted building finds new life

A gutted building finds new life

A gutted building found new life in Culver City, Calif.
Oct 01, 2007

Art in the park: Sculptures at City of Angels Veterinary Specialty Center add an interesting visual element. Artificial grass means there are never any brown patches, but Dr. Mona Rosenberg does have a team member patrol and hose down the area daily. (Photos by Glenn Cormier/Ben Carufel: Insite Architectural Photography)
DR. MONA ROSENBERG KNOWS oncology. And she was good at running her standalone oncology practice—the business was a success. But because she didn't have enough space for her practice to be the comprehensive cancer center she'd dreamed of, she started searching for a new location. However, in Southern California there isn't a lot of land up for grabs. So she worked with her Realtor for several years until they found the perfect space in Culver City, Calif.

Floor Plan: City of Angels Veterinary Specialty Center
The gutted 30,000-square-foot building was a bit large to house just a cancer center. And at the time, the area had a reputation of being less than desirable. Dr. Rosenberg wondered if she'd be able to attract new clients to the area. So she began talking with other like-minded business owners. It made sense to her to partner with other specialty veterinarians so they could come together under one roof and form a large specialty facility. "It made sense," she says, "because they each know how to run their specialty practice successfully." So several specialties came together under one roof, each a separate practice and business. Each practice has its own mission statement and core values, but there are also core values that govern the entire facility. "We wanted a functional space," Dr. Rosenberg says, "and we wanted to stay true to the fact that we're separate businesses that work together."

An inside look: An interior brick wall with a window provides lines of sight into a client area with a coffee bar and vending machine.
She took a chance on the location and it paid off. Over the last five years the city has grown and gentrified, and now Culver City has a reputation for being hip and up-and-coming. The old brick building fits in with the neighborhood nicely. "When we found it, it was already a super-cool-looking facility," Dr. Rosenberg says. "It was a blank canvas." The building had been gutted, so there were few walls inside. And for the most part, the concrete flooring and open truss ceilings stayed in place (except where sound abatement was necessary) during renovation.

Catering to clients

The U-shaped floor plan is perfect for the group's business model: Clients walk into one entrance, but each specialty group has its own reception area, just like a human hospital. The front end of the building is divided into pods, but the back area is open to keep everything flowing between the medical teams from each practice.

A look at the numbers
Each practice provided input on how much square footage it would need, and the designers took this into consideration when they created the floor plan. Each group also designed its own exam rooms, so the exam rooms are all a little different. "The designers spent a substantial amount of time interviewing us and watching us work in our previous facilities," Dr. Rosenberg says. This helped them come up with a plan for everyone—including the facility's clients.