Efficiency in a veterinary practice with a small footprint


It's not impossible to build a high-efficiency veterinary practice in a small space.

Q I'm building a really small practice—1,000 square feet—in a heavily urban area. How do I make it efficient?

For a tight order like that, make sure you start right, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Wayne Usiak, AIA, and senior partner of Wayne Usiak and Associates/BDA Architecture P.C.

"Your designer must understand every protocol used in veterinary practice," Usiak says. "He or she must be familiar with every piece of equipment, minimum clearances, and required utility services, and must be able to help you pick out the tasks that can occupy the same space and the tasks that need separation. Every square foot must do double duty—at a minimum— to optimize the space."

Usiak recommends building multipurpose rooms instead of multiple small rooms. This also reduces the need for many hallways, as the spaces provide the circulation area.

"The design must optimize income-producing space; but don't neglect the critical features that reinforce practice image, client comfort, and convenience," he says. "Small practices are often the most intimate, high-touch, personal-relationship practices. Remember to include these qualities in your quest for task layout productivity."

Usiak compares designing a veterinary hospital to building a sailboat: All three dimensions must be addressed, and every cubic foot should be important. A good way to do this in tight spaces is to use space on top of or below elements.

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