The whole enchilada

The whole enchilada

Mar 01, 2007

Elements of a winning facility: Birdhouses and bird feeders strategically placed outside of the cat playroom help keep the felines entertained.
As DR. Warren Resell's staff and the co-owners of the Atascocita Animal Hospital in Humble, Texas, read this article, they're learning for the first time that they won the Hospital of the Year award in the 2007 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition. Dr. Resell announced to his team that they were finalists in the competition, but he didn't spill the beans about the Hospital of the Year award. He has kept that a secret since our editorial team and his architect delivered the good news to him in December. (Note to Dr. Resell's team: Here's your cue to celebrate.)

Back in December, architect Ralph Thibodeau was the first to share the news with Dr. Resell. "Ralph called me and said, 'Warren, are you sitting down? We did it! We won Hospital of the Year—the whole enchilada!'" Dr. Resell recalls. "That recognition exceeded our hopes and expectations."

The facility's signage is made of brick and sandstone to match the building and features carved and wire-brushed redwood with laser-cut animal figures.

The garden and waterfall: A soothing sight greets clients as they pull up to the hospital. The landscaping qualifies for the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation's backyard habitat certification programs.

Traffic patterns

So what did it for the competition's judges? The near-perfect floor plan, the striking regional architectural elements, and the colorful cat playroom all drew their attention.

One of Dr. Resell's top design priorities was a floor plan that flowed smoothly. The result: easy access from exam rooms into the treatment area. The area behind the exam rooms and the lab and pharmacy is wide enough for two technicians each carrying a patient to pass each other, and two veterinarians can work side by side without getting in each other's way. "The open layout and natural light from the clerestory windows really help set a pleasant tone for the workday," says Dr. Resell.

The waiting area: The flooring is made of porcelain ceramic tile and base tile with epoxy grout. The bench seating doubles as hidden storage space, and the flat-screen monitor is used for client education and on Saturday mornings shows cartoons.

Pet information center: In an area just off the waiting room, clients can take a video tour of the hospital using a touchscreen computer that's mounted to the wall. Kids can play games on the computer or print out coloring pages. The system also answers pet-related questions and provides information about dog breeds.

Dr. Resell knew from the get-go that he didn't want any physical separation between the front and back areas of the hospital. "A lot of floor plans feature a reception area and then a brigade of exam rooms," he says. "I think that approach produces a physical and psychological separation. Instead, we designed our floor plan so there'd be a central area where the receptionists, technicians, office managers, and doctors could all meet and interact."