The beat goes on

The beat goes on

Only in New York City can you find a former reggae club converted into a veterinary practice in the center of a trendy, bustling art district. West Chelsea Veterinary used modern design and an efficient floorplan to capture a 2009 merit award.
Jun 01, 2009

Dr. Michael Farber had a problem. With two years remaining on his practice's lease, he learned that the building owner intended to sell the property for redevelopment, leaving West Chelsea Veterinary without a home. To make matters worse, Dr. Farber had recently remodeled the facility and added an adjoining storefront, increasing the practice's workspace. Not long after settling in for the long run, Dr. Farber was unexpectedly scouring real estate listings.


New York, New York: Finding adequate space in New York City wasn't easy, but Dr. Michael Farber got creative, converting a former reggae club into West Chelsea Veterinary, a 6,500-square-foot facility in a trendy art district. (Photos by Dan Nelken and Julie Robbins)
It didn't take long for Dr. Farber to realize he had a tough search on his hands. "The whole idea of moving and finding space in New York City is kind of ominous," Dr. Farber says. "But we didn't really have a choice." The neighborhood he'd chosen, West Chelsea, had evolved from a rundown, dreary area to a thriving art district in just a few years. Properties were in high demand, and landlords now preferred to rent their spaces for use as art galleries and studios rather than busy veterinary clinics.

Stop and smell the flowers: Absent from the practice's front desk are copiers, fax machines, and files. Performing administrative tasks in other areas of the practice allows team members to focus on client service.
Luckily for Dr. Farber, help came from a familiar source. One of his clients had a space available just a few blocks from the previous location, and he offered to give Dr. Farber a tour. As a recently defunct reggae club, the space didn't initially jump out at Dr. Farber as a potential clinic. A disco ball hung from the ceiling, a bar sat in the corner, and half-full beer bottles littered the floor. But after touring the space, Dr. Farber was able to look past the rough condition, and he decided to undertake the extensive renovation necessary to convert it into a veterinary clinic. And since the club's late-night revelers had often spilled out into the street at 3 a.m., neighbors were thrilled at the thought of a veterinary clinic moving in. "Once word got out that we were looking, clients begged us to come here," Dr. Farber says.


Lobby: Ample client seating gives the lobby a spacious feeling rarely experienced in New York City. Waiting clients can peek in at the adoptable cats in the cat condos (left), or browse through products in the retail area, located to the right of the reception desk.
After a seven-month renovation, the West Chelsea team worked around the clock one weekend to move into the new space. "It was very much a team effort," Dr. Farber says. "They were very motivated and excited." One walk through the new facility shows why team members were so eager to make the move.

Stairway to heaven: A staircase takes clients from the busy street to the main level of the practice. An elevator makes it possible for all clients to reach the lobby.
Immediately inside the front door is a six-step staircase flanked by an elevator on the left that leads to the reception area. At the top of the stairs, clients can view a set of cat condos housing adoptable cats. Just inside the reception area, a warm bamboo wall displays the practice's logo and a large reception desk helps team members accommodate clients during busy periods. Framed artwork and wood benches line the halls that lead to four of the exam rooms, and retail shelving lets clients browse products in a separate hallway.