People's Choice veterinary hospital stands tall


Careful site selection and advance planning lay the groundwork for a successful build.

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Careful positioning of the practice on the lot and building signage increase visibility in a not-so-obvious location. Analysis of the view from all angles led to the development of billboard-like elements on two faces of the building that attract attention of passing traffic.

The trio of doctors who own Appanasha Pet Clinic, the longest-established small animal practice in the area of Menasha, Wis., took the task of building a new facility seriously. Originally built in 1963, the clinic had served the community well for 50 years, but the practice had outgrown the space and was in need of an update.

“What started as a one-doctor practice has grown to six doctors,” says co-owner Dr. Murray Hurlburt. “We weren’t wishing for something fancy or additional services, but a better space in which to maintain our quality of service and to add comfort for clients, staff and patients.”

The three long-standing co-owners of the practice wanted to respect the practice’s rich history with the community. A detailed site selection plan helped find a piece of land six blocks from the original building. The site, while affordable and close, lacked great visibility to main traffic areas. The architect found the angles that offered maximum exposure from nearby intersections and used this information to position the facility in order to draw attention from passing traffic and arriving clients.

In addition, two billboard-like design elements were added to the most visible sides of the building, with the practice name prominently displayed from a distance.

“As with everything in our design process, we took our time making sure this was done right and for the benefit of our clients and patients,” says Dr. Hurlburt. “Being farther away from a busy road in a quieter neighborhood suits us well, while still giving us visibility.”

The doctors planned and saved for this project for three years, encouraging design input from clients and staff members along the way. According to Dr. Hurlburt, this allowed fees to remain stable and everyone to feel invested in the process.

Apparently, the three partners accomplished their goal. Business is booming, the hospital was recently crowned the 2014 Veterinary Economics People’s Choice—and even the long-retired founder of the practice approves. He attended the open house and gave his blessing.

Takeaway tip:

Traffic visibility is important, but don’t abandon the perfect site because people can’t easily see it.

Photography credit: Phil Weston, Weston Imaging Group

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