North Pole Vet Hospital: A Renovation & Expansion.


North Pole Veterinary Hospital, A Renovation and Expansion.

Growing out of the space provided by their existing 1980’s facility and site layout, North Pole Veterinary Hospital approached Bettisworth North with a unique design opportunity: to identify a solution to their needs as a vet hospital to include the “Fear Free” pet model.

The owners proposed the following: Is it possible to simultaneously double the amount of exam rooms, double the amount of back of house clinical, kennel, and office space, double the front of house waiting and reception space, and double the parking all while leaving the facility operational during the renovation and addition construction?

As a design team, these questions are what get us excited about a project. All of the disciplines got together to figure out how to meet the needs of the client while also creating a welcoming and healing place for the pets and their owners.

The existing building had a back of house loading garage with an exterior garage door used to store supplies. The plan was to connect the new addition to the existing building through the garage door opening. This allowed the existing facility to stay operational while utilizing the garage door opening to connect the interiors of the existing building with the new addition. Upon completion the garage was renovated into a pharmacy which serves as a hub connecting the existing building to the addition. A remodel of the existing facility façade to match the addition allows the addition and existing building to read as one seamless building from interior to exterior.

A request to follow best practices of “Fear Free” pet design guidelines for veterinary hospital facilities, inspired the environmental and building systems upgrades to include: connection to city sewer and demolition of old septic system; upgrades to efficient natural gas boilers and furnace; electrical distribution systems upgrade; efficient Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) and hydronic slab heat systems to reduce heating costs; efficient zoned cassette cooling systems to reduce cooling costs; arctic entry vestibules at all entrances and a continuous exterior insulation system to reduce heat loss and heat gain of the facility to the exterior environment; and a continuous roof parapet system with overflow scuppers and heat traced internal roof drains were added to keep roof dry and eliminate future ice damming concerns.

The goal of the interior design for the North Pole Vet Hospital was to create a welcoming and serene interior environment that fosters an experiential atmosphere to alleviate stress, fear, and anxiety for the pet patients and their owners who visit the practice. In keeping with Fear Free Shelter principles, the design of the shelter facility considers the human element of the shelter team and visitors as well as the sensitivity of animals to human stress and anxiety. It is valuable to ensure that the appearance of the spaces in the building deviate from the traditionally sterile and bleak aesthetic that is oftentimes apparent in veterinary hospitals, which can render a timid response from pets as a reaction to the discomfort that their owner experiences. Through the course of meetings and site visits with the client, some initial descriptive ideas were included to define the quality of finish materials to aid in preliminary pricing. The interior finish materials were selected based on durability and ease of maintenance with consideration for suitability and veterinary care requirements. Ample daylight, warm colors, wood accents, tactile materials, even ambient light that is well-shielded and controllable, interesting graphics, and a variety of pet accommodations ensure a more comfortable, less stressful, and safer environment for animals, caregivers, and pet parents.

Site Design Upgrades included new paving and parking lot layout, landscaping, a new fenced dog yard, building and site illuminated signage, a dedicated loading zone, and head bolt heaters at parking stalls.

This special year of constant adjustments could have negatively impacted our project, but the steady vision of Bettisworth North kept us moving forward. Frequently I hear clients remark on the calming atmosphere provided by our new lobby space and how that helps their pet be more comfortable during their veterinary visit […] North Pole Veterinary Hospital is better able to respond to the needs of our patients and their owners due to our thoughtfully designed and completed spaces.

– Suze Nolan, Practice Manager

The majority of the design and construction of this extensive renovation was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This project not only inspired our team throughout the design but the owners and staff of the project made it a wonderful experience and we are so thankful for their input and support throughout the process.

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