Designing Felton Veterinary Hospital

As I recall, one of the first questions I asked owner Robert Atton in the pre-design interviews preparatory to designing the Felton Veterinary Hospital (FVH) was along the lines of, “Bob, what do you think this building should look like”.

Of course, the design possibilities were essentially unrestricted. My own predilection had been towards a minimalist, abstract form emphasizing sculptural content. Think Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoy.

Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital (SCVH), then-prospective design inspiration for FVH

Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital (SCVH), then-prospective design inspiration for FVH

This was the approach we had used in our very successful design for the Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital (SCVH) the year before. Bob knew the design (in fact he’d been referred to us by virtue of our SCVH commission), but that look was not quite his “cup of tea”.

Instead, we piled into his Jeep Cherokee and took a short drive to the east end of town, to a little commercial office complex on Graham Hill Road. “That’s the look I like”, he said.

What I saw was one of those vernacular buildings that spring up unselfconsciously. Featuring a white post colonnade along the front, horizontal wood siding, and low-pitched expansive green composition roof, it had a decidedly unaffected, no-nonsense practical feel to it. It was also perfectly contextual, meaning it fit right into the urban “look” of Felton.

I saw the appropriateness, and hence the beauty of the building Bob admired, immediately.

Entry Facade of the Felton Veterinary Hospital

Entry Facade of the Felton Veterinary Hospital

The building that resulted is, accordingly, decidedly contextual, featuring the rhythm, cadence, and solidity of its sheltering colonnade, and the stolid assuredness of expanses of roof and horizontal wood siding. The wood, by the way is creamy ivory-colored, and the colonnade and timbered portico, a rich thalo blue.

The overall design, in addition to the building, included site design, parking facilitation, accessible parking facilitation, a service yard in support of building operations, and landscape design. Significantly, it also included state-of-the-art systems for both sanitary waste processing and storm water detention structures designed specifically to limit downstream impacts upon the Monterey Bay Sanctuary.

Photos of this highly successful facility are at the dedicated page at our website, and have been recently posted to Pinterest. The Felton Veterinary Hospital is located at 5980 Highway 9 in Felton, CA. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.


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