After practicing in a 1,700-square-foot strip mall facility for nine years, Dr.?Keith Hilinski made a huge leap when he moved
to his new 6,500-square-foot space. But boosting square footage by almost 300 percent wasn't enough for this owner of Rolling
Hills Pet Hospital in Chula Vista, Calif. He also wanted a eye-catching look, so he turned to his human medicine counterparts
Hallway: The "backbone" of the hospital is this curved hallway (left), which features arched doorways, skylights, two-tone
walls, and views into all working areas of the hospital.
"A plastic surgeon's office evokes quality and beauty," Dr. Hilinski says. "It shows that a doctor is dedicated to his practice."
So that's what he aimed for. And the 2008 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition judges agreed that Dr. Hilinski's new practice evokes the high-end atmosphere he desired, earning
him a Merit Award in the competition.
Reception area: Stained concrete floors, exposed concrete walls, a curved reception desk with curved ceiling baffles, travertine
tiles on the desk and columns, and amber pendant lighting complete the refined waiting area décor. The ceiling is painted
black with recessed lights to mimic an "endless starry night."
Hometown boy makes good
Born and raised in San Diego, leaving only to attend veterinary school at UC Davis, Dr. Hilinski felt a strong pull to practice
in or near his hometown. But California real estate isn't exactly cheap, so he purchased a strip mall practice in 1998 and
practiced there until he ran out of space. "We were literally bumping elbows trying to get in and out of exam rooms," he says.
After two years of looking for property at the height of the real estate market, Dr. Hilinski decided to lease a building
five miles away from his original practice. In a mixed-use industrial park, his new neighbors include factories, carpet cleaners,
mortgage brokers, and real estate agents—and rent was the same as it had been at the previous facility. That gave Dr. Hilinski
money to spend on design and décor. Still, he had to employ a little creativity to get the practice he always wanted.
Caviar design on a burger budget
Dr. Hilinski wanted just one first impression from clients: "Wow." That's not easy without plenty of cash, but architect Melvin
McGee and builder Fred Babuscio made it happen.
FLOOR PLAN: Rolling Hills Pet Hospital (PHOTOS BY ANDREW BATALLER, ANDREW BATALLER PHOTOGRAPHY)
For the hospital layout, Dr. Hilinski chose a curved "backbone" hallway to give the practice an upscale look. "A regular straight
hallway looks too cramped and plain," he says. "We worried we were wasting space with the curve, but when the architect resketched
the design without it, it just didn't have the same feel." He dressed up the area further with two-tone paint, skylights,
and doorway arches, again reminiscent of a sophisticated human-medicine practice. The architect wife's, an interior designer
of human-medicine hospitals, collaborated on the color and texture schemes.