Making sense of pets' senses in veterinary hospital design

August 28, 2018
Heather E. Lewis, AIA, NCARB
Heather E. Lewis, AIA, NCARB

Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, is a partner at Animal Arts, an architecture firm in Boulder, Colorado and frequent HospitalDesign360 conference speaker. She's a lighting geek and a (seriously) devoted advocate of minimizing pets' stress and anxiety during their veterinary visits. She has designed practices and shelters that range in size from 1,200 square feet to 110,000 square feet. During grad school (as a break from architorture) she trained miniature horses to pull carts!

Patients' perceptions are vastly different from our ownan important consideration when building a hospital.

Much thought (and money) is put into aesthetics when designing a clinic: Choices of color palette, decoration and so on are gone over at length with the goal of creating a space that is comfortable for and attractive to clients and staff. And the same consideration should be afforded the four-legged denizens of your hospital, according to HospitalDesign360 speaker Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB.

Drawing a parallel with what we've learned from patients' recovery in human medicine, Lewis points out that environmental factors are key.

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"This means tuning lighting for the way that animals see the space and understand the space," she says. "We also know that sound control is absolutely critical."

Because pets hear differently-they can detect frequencies up to three times higher than humans-it's important to consider the potentially unsettling sounds created by machinery and even lighting, Lewis says.

Watch the video for more.

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