Marrying peace with place


The colors, textures, proportions, and "mood" all work together in a place to communicate something about what you're supposed to experience there.

A few summers ago during a family vacation I was rambling with my brother around the Empress Hotel, a grand old English-colonial-style edifice in Victoria, British Columbia. We poked our heads into the Bengal Lounge, where the rich mahogany paneling, deep leather chairs, dim lighting, and potted palms were straight out of A Passage to India. My brother and I were that close to ordering martinis, firing up cigars, and discussing our family's fortunes in the spice trade before we remembered that we were 21st-century American tourists whose other family members were probably wondering where we were.

40 winks: A resident feline at City Cat Clinic and Condos in St. Louis Park, Minn., dozes in the staff area.

Such is the power of a great room. When you step into an area where everything is right, you can feel it, even if you can't quite articulate why. The colors, textures, proportions, and "mood" all work together to communicate something about what you're supposed to experience in that place.

Animals feel it too. As you can see above and at right, a veterinary practice has the power to induce some deep relaxation in pets. Of course, most clinics see plenty of calamity too, but if the form, function, and aesthetics of the building work toward peace instead of against it, everyone starts from a better place.

Take five: Dogs chill out in the "playcare" yard at Godspeed Animal Care and St. Francis Pet Resort in Williamsburg, Va.

While we can't take you into the spaces pictured on the following pages, we can point out what these practices have done to create that special place-related experience for patients, clients, and team members. If you happen to find yourself relaxing and thinking about new possibilities in your own practice as you turn these pages, we'll relish the fact that the words and pictures have stood in for the real thing as much as possible. But you might have to furnish your own cigar.

Kristi Reimer, Editor

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