Urban edge, green style

Urban edge, green style

The city is best known for its steel production, but Pittsburgh, Pa., has a new crop of buildings that strive to be environmentally friendly. East End Veterinary Medical Centre brought this approach to veterinary medicine, with pleasing results.
Jan 01, 2010

In a city that ranks among the highest in the United States in LEED-certified square footage, one veterinary practice is well on its way to claiming that green-living title for its own. East End Veterinary Medical Centre in Pittsburgh, Pa., enjoys not only a clean floor plan but also an environmentally sound approach to construction—with a decidedly artistic flair. The leasehold practice, co-owned by Drs. Andrea Cangin and Kenneth Fisher, earned a 2009 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition Merit Award for its well-thought-out plan, great use of space, and strong use of color.


Photos courtesy of evolveEA and Drs. Kenneth Fisher and Andrea Cangin
When Drs. Fisher and Cangin met in 2005, they quickly realized they held similar ideas about the type of practice they each wanted to own. "We were on the same page philosophically about practice management and about how to build a practice," Dr. Fisher says. "I never really wanted to go it alone. I've seen a lot of people burnt out with solo practice. I have a family and wanted a good balance between the two, so sharing the load was the way to go."

Reception area: The desk and ceiling are the focal points of the reception area, with a built-in fish tank in the reception desk and a lower ceiling over the desk to shade the sun. The lowered ceiling also extends to the vertical opposing wall, becoming shelving at the window and a display system behind the desk.
With a few years of experience under their belts—along with opinions on how (and how not) to practice—they decided it was time to open their own clinic. One thing they decided right away was to physically separate the front and back of the hospital to create a clear division between client areas and staff areas. "We want to keep our focus on our appointments, without distraction from clients who catch us in the hallway," Dr. Fisher says. To keep communication flowing, the doctors installed an intercom system. If an urgent situation arises, the doctors can answer via intercom or direct receptionists to put clients in an exam room, where they can talk in private as the schedule allows.

The room is built to resemble an art gallery more than a pet hospital, complete with artwork on loan from nearby galleries.
In a 3,000-square-foot leasehold facility, space is at a premium. This, too, influenced the doctors' design decisions. For example, they installed pocket doors between exam rooms and the treatment area to save space. One minor drawback to this decision is that the doors aren't as soundproof as regular doors, but they were necessary for their convenience in tight spaces.

Floor Plan: East End Veterinary Medical Centre
But what drove the building most was the doctors'—and their architect's—desire to design with the earth in mind. "We didn't plan to go green from the outset," Dr. Fisher says, "but the plan evolved because of the architect we chose. The more she explained her ideas, the more we realized how good it would be for our practice and the setting we're in.