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Spiffy ideas for hospital exteriors


You don't have to break the bank to dress up your practice's curb appeal.

If you've just bought a sad-looking building to renovate into a veterinary practice, or if your existing building is looking a little shabby and tired from the street, don't let that make you feel sad and tired yourself, says Dan Chapel, AIA, owner of Chapel Architects in Little Rock, Ark., and a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member. Speaking to attendees of the 2008 Hospital Design Conference held in Kansas City, Mo., in conjunction with CVC Central, Chapel offered up these ideas for spiffing up your exterior into a handsome, sharp-looking building:

1. Add a cupola or dormer windows. These architectural details are fairly inexpensive to add to an existing building with a pitched roof, and they give a pop of pizzazz to your overall look.

2. Build a pitched roof on top of a flat roof. You don't have to live with a boring elevation, Chapel says. It's simple to change your building's appearance dramatically with a new, interesting roofline.

3. Layer on brick or stone veneer. Prices and options for attractive siding have become much more appealing in recent years, according to Chapel. You can usually install these materials directly on top of existing siding.

4. Screen uglies with a fence or plantings. You may want to hide an unattractive part of your building--or your neighbor's clutter. Chapel once built a fence to camouflage a hideous section of a client's building that he couldn't change, and from a few feet away it simply looked like part of the structure. He also planted a "wall" of pampas grass to screen passing cars from the eyes of excitable canines. The plants muffled the noise as well.

5. Add an entry porch. An attractive entryway with a pitched roof, columns, and archway is an inexpensive way to add some glamour to your entrance.

6. Install awnings. Awnings add color and interest to your exterior, plus they're energy-efficient, screening windows from direct sunlight and heat. For more on curb appeal, click here.

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