Blame fate for Dr. Robert C. Brown, director of Cherrydale Veterinary Clinic in Arlington, Va., bumping into architect and analyst E. John Knapp, AIA, from Oregon, Wis., at a national conference. Dr. Brown wanted to renovate his hospital to improve traffic flow.
By Elizabeth A. Brown, senior associate editor
Blamefate for Dr. Robert C. Brown, director of Cherrydale Veterinary Clinicin Arlington, Va., bumping into architect and analyst E. John Knapp,AIA, from Oregon, Wis., at a national conference. Dr. Brown wanted torenovate his hospital to improve traffic flow.
After talking withKnapp, Dr. Brown decided to tear the clinic down and start anew. The950-square-foot hospital had a 26-year history in a stable community, soDr. Brown decided to expand to 1,200 square feet. Knapp estimated aseven-month project, but Dr. Brown had something quicker in mind. Knappspent six months drawing plans, then Dr. Brown turned to HittConstruction Co., a Fairfax, Va., firm that specializes in ultraquickturnarounds. They spent another six months planning details.
"Weplanned it so there'd be no surprises," says Dr. Brown. "We anticipatedevery detail, every bit of material we'd need. We even prepared to tentthe site in case of snow--which was necessary to complete theexterior."
Dr. Brown slated construction for two weeks inJanuary. Staff members moved furnishings out in two hours on Saturday,and construction workers demolished the hospital and hauled away rubbleby 6 a.m. Sunday morning, then worked 36 hours building piers. With 45people from all trades toiling on the site, the hospital rose in 12days. "Planning this project down to the last detail was the only way tokeep on schedule," Dr. Brown says.
Clients learned the hospitalwould close temporarily with two postcards and newsletter notices. Staffmembers switched phones to a business office so one of the six doctorswere on-call, and three area clinics handled emergencies.
Dr.Brown emphasizes the project wasn't more expensive than a traditionalprocess. "Subcontractors love it, because they get seven months of payin two weeks," he says. "You don't pay a premium for quick turnaround."The hospital even won a 1997 construction excellence certificate ofmerit from the Metropolitan Washington and Virginia chapters ofAssociated Builders and Contractors out of more than 500 entries forcommercial buildings under $2 million.
Dr. Brown encourages otherveterinarians to consider this quick building alternative. Constructiondidn't harm practice revenue, and impressed clients are rapidly payingfor the new facility.
June 1998 VeterinaryEconomics