Open wide to two crucial hospital design details

November 1, 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!

Many a veterinary practice owner has gotten bogged down and overwhelmed obsessing over every tiny little detail of every surface of every room of their new hospital. But you cant go wrong thinking about these two things.

Everybody's obsessed with where doors swing, but hardly anybody spends enough time thinking about what they're going to grab for 20 years. (Adobe Stock)Veterinarians are classic for sweating the details in hospital design. Focusing on details is part of being a good doctor. So let's consider the moments when the tiny details aren't wasting a practice owner's time. Who doesn't love a good Pinterest page full of every single thing you want? It's fun and that's fine. It's good to indulge your mind that way as long as you know there's a time and place.

So, what does matter? Something you will not only see but touch every single day: door hardware. You touch a piece of door hardware every single way every single day. If it's bad, your workflow has issues. And, sure, there's nothing more boring than door hardware-does it have a lock? What kind of lock? (I want to die thinking about this stuff.) But every practice owner should force him or herself through this torture session so they get the hardware they want and need.

Bonus tip? Another crucial question involves the thermostat-one of the most hotly contested (pun intended) elements of any building. Which office is it in? Who can get to it? That's important and often veterinarians and builders will forget about their effect on workflow and client, patient and team member comfort.

Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, is a partner at Animal Arts, an architecture firm in Boulder, Colorado and frequent HospitalDesign360 conference speaker.