A veterinarian and an architect walk into a barn. Well, actually they drove past it first.
"We commented, 'Wouldn't it be cool to utilize that structure?'" says architect Jeremy Rumph of TWC Architecture and Construction in Willmar, Minnesota. He and Harvey Hummel, VMD, were planning on utilizing the existing lot of Andover Animal Hospital in Newton, New Jersey. However, zoning challenges detoured those plans, until a new path opened up.
"Lo and behold 'that structure' became available and we forged ahead with a new direction," Rumph says.
"That structure" happened to be an old dairy barn (and when we say old, we mean more than 100 years old). The historic landmark dates back to the early 1900s and converting the space into an 8,034 square foot veterinary hospital earned Andover Animal Hospital a 2016 Hospital Design Competition Merit Award.
Make history with your next hospital design project with these timeless tips, courtesy of Dr. Hummel.
If you're looking for the perfect building for your hospital conversion, remember that sometimes it pays to think outside the box, or barn, in this case. Fitting the needs of an animal hospital into the existing footprint of an old dairy barn, with sloping exterior walls, bedrock throughout the site, and outdated mechanical systems, definitely wasn't easy. However, Dr. Hummel says it was rewarding to be able to revive a treasured building and design a veterinary hospital with character.
"Some of the positives of the conversion included maintaining and saving a local landmark that was in desperate need of repair, and utilizing a building with high visibility on a busy intersection," Dr. Hummel says.
Utilize unique spaces
When your new building comes with a concrete constructed silo with 18-inch walls, you take advantage of that bonus space! At least that's what Dr. Hummel did. He transformed it into a cozy comfort room, complete with wood ceilings, natural oak sheet vinyl, and a window. Now it's his favorite feature in the entire hospital.
"We utilize it for client consults and euthanasia," he says. "With the heavy walls, it gives our grieving clients a quiet space separated from the busier areas of the hospital."
Teamwork makes the dream work
How do you get your team on board with your new hospital? Ask for their input, Dr. Hummel says. Before construction began, he held a special staff meeting.
"We asked all of our staff to list what they wanted most in our new building," Dr. Hummel says. "Requests included a staff room with lockers, separate dog and cat cage areas, a dental suite and digital radiography."
Design to your strengths
When brainstorming the look and feel of your new hospital, Dr. Hummel says it's best to design to your strengths. While the theme of the hospital was inspired largely by the building itself, his team always felt that one of their greatest strengths was the close client relationships. Now they have a hospital that represents that.
"The exterior embodies our county's rural heritage and the décor of the interior gives our clients a warm, welcoming experience," Dr. Hummel says. "We are able to offer all of the advances of veterinary medicine, but still retain the doctor-client-patient relationship that Andover Animal Hospital is known for."