Modern facility, farmhouse charm

Modern facility, farmhouse charm

Noise and odor control, efficiency, and comfort for everyone ruled the design of Gunbarrel Veterinary Clinic.
Jan 01, 2006

FOR 34 YEARS, THE DOCTORS at Gunbarrel Veterinary Clinic in Boulder, Colo., cared for pets out of an old farmhouse. The building consisted of two exam rooms, a cramped treatment area, and a noisy kennel that shared a wall with an exam room.

When Dr. Louis Brad purchased the practice in 1992, the quarters weren't so tight; there were only three people on staff. But as Dr. Brad brought on associates, increased support staff, and grew the client base, the small farmhouse facility just couldn't cut it. "Before I knew it, there was no space to practice," he says. "And the noise grated on me every day."

The farmhouse sat on 5 acres of land, giving Dr. Brad the perfect location to build his new facility. His goals: cut down on noise and odor; make the practice efficient and easy to work in; and provide a homey, comfortable place that clients, staff members, and patients would enjoy. Dr. Brad thinks he's met these goals. And the judges of the 2005 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition agreed, awarding Gunbarrel Veterinary Clinic a Merit Award.

Designing a dream

The experience of working in the old facility shaped Dr. Brad's goals for his new hospital. Noise and odor control topped the list, but he also wanted the practice to reflect his personality and style—warm and welcoming, like the old farmhouse he was practicing in. "While I wanted the practice to come into the next century, I didn't want the style to be cold or clinical," he says.

For much of the project, Dr. Brad took inspiration from those who've gone before him. "I poured over hundreds of floor plans and pictures of other people's facilities, visited other practices, and attended the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference," he says. "An exhibitor at the conference recommended architect Kent Beierle, so I gave him a call."

Dr. Brad had talked with a few other architects, but the rapport just simply wasn't there. "I flew to Albuquerque to meet Kent. After a day-long meeting, I realized he was the right person for my project, and I signed a contract before I left!"

Dr. Brad already had plans scribbled out. Beierle filled in technical details and helped get the facility built. In the end, Dr. Brad says the final product isn't too far from his original plan.

Roadblocks and solutions

Reception: Distressed wood salvaged from a hay shed on site was incorporated into a finish surface for the curved reception desk and the timber soffit above the desk. A 4-foot-tall opening leads to a kids' play area with windows looking into the doggy daycare.
After toying with the idea of remodeling the old farmhouse, Dr. Brad quickly realized that building a brand-new facility on the same property would give him what he wanted. He assumed that because a veterinary practice already existed on this site, there'd be no problems building a new facility. However, Dr. Brad ran into issues with electricity and water service.