Building Design for Animals

Article by Paul Gladysz, AIA, NCARB, CSI, ICC

The Highs and Lows of Hospital Heights

Single- and multistory buildings have their pros and cons. Do you know which design is generally the best?

A question owner's sometimes ask is, given a choice, is it better for a clinic to be on a single floor or on multiple levels?

Practice owners of course have nowhere to go but up in some instances. Think small sites and locations in dense urban areas where ground floors aren’t big enough.

Where the choice exists, though, is taller better? Like many questions related to design, the answer is, it depends.

Factors to consider when deciding to 'Go Tall' include:

Gross Square Footage vs. Net

Building up can decrease a building's footprint, foundation and roof, but it adds new square footage factors like stairs, elevators and vertical circulation, and new costs such as structural systems and equipment.

Labor Costs

Dividing a hospital into multiple floors can affect hospital circulation and staff efficiency. Working with hundreds of practices over the years, BDA has found that, when possible, keeping all clinical functions on the ground floor is best.

Something else to consider, large equipment rooms can be very expensive to place above ground level. MRI and CT machines and linear accelerators are heavy. Placing them on the second floor or higher creates a number of other expensive problems.

Know Your Limits

  • More floors could mean redundancies – If the main treatment room is on the ground floor but the surgery suite is upstairs, you might need an X-ray unit on both floors.
  • Expense – Beyond the cost of added equipment is the probability of more staffing to operate the multi-story facility.
  • Visual Appeal – If aesthetics is the reason for considering a multi-story building know that there are other ways to achieve the effect.

With the occasional exception of incidental second-story space, like a pitched roof attic, all in all the preference is to construct a single-story whenever possible.

If you would like to read more about the choice to build a single or multistory building and the things to consider when making a decision, check out Paul's full article 'The Highs and Lows of Hospital Heights' in Today's Veterinary Business.