Owner assembled collaborative team of Seattle Junk Love, GGLO, and Hammer & Hand create first location.
We’re equal parts building nerd and entrepreneurship geek around here, so we gravitate to commercial remodels and tenant improvement work for companies that are special – ones that address a new need or approach a familiar one with a fresh approach.
As folks dedicated to the values of differentiation and audacity in reaching one’s “tribe”, it’s always an honor to collaborate with a business owners to create a place of business that manifests who they are (their “brand”) and provides the bricks-and-mortar launching pad from which to propel their business.
Our commercial remodel of Dr. Cherri Trusheim’s veterinary practice, Urban Animal, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is an exemplar of that experience for us.
The practice, located at the corner of Broadway and Madison (1001 Broadway Ave., Suite 109) opened its doors for business today, offering a new approach to animal medicine for Seattle’s pet owners. Urban Animal aims to care for animals compassionately and sensibly, helping clients make informed decisions with a range of choices to fit their budget. The practice’s new model of care offers walk-in appointments, pricing below the competition, and a compassionate and frank attitude toward caring for pets.
Cherri has spent the last several years of her professional life in emergency critical care medicine in a 24 hour referral hospital. She’s gained a formidable set of hard-won skills and expertise from this background, but also a conviction that veterinary care can be done better.
“Veterinary medicine has come to parallel human medicine, but I don’t know many pets who have an HMO,” said Cherri. “People who have thousands to spend on animal care will probably be fine with most veterinarians. But if you only have $150 in your pocket to spend on animal care, that’s when you need a really good veterinarian. We can do as little or as much as you’re comfortable with. But we’re offering options-based medicine here.”
Many of us probably have stories of being led down a path of expensive life-prolonging vet treatments. And some, myself included, were left wondering who those extra days or weeks benefited. Was my cat better off? Or did it just prolong her suffering? I wish I had someone like Cherri there to be candid about the options. Caring for one’s pet is a weighty experience. And while pets aren’t human, the human-pet bond is deep. We want to do right by our furry friends.
When Cherri was cooking up her practice she reached out to her friend Sarah Littlefield, interior designer and junk-picker extraordinaire with Seattle Junk Love (a frequent collaborator of Hammer & Hand’s). Cherri knew she wanted a space that celebrated both the human-animal bond and her own aesthetic. Warm, inviting materials, salvaged wood – authentic. Not generic or anodyne.
To avoid the typical cookie-cutter approach, Cherri looked outside the niche of veterinary architects and builders. (Yes, there is such a niche.) She brought on her friend Tiina Ritval of prominent Seattle architecture firm GGLO, and then approached Seattle general contractor Hammer & Hand to join the team.
The team worked together to transform a cave-like, nondescript medical office into an airy space worthy of its Capitol Hill environs.
“Capitol Hill was recently voted the 8th hippest neighborhood in the country,” said Cherri. “So we wanted to create a space that was representative of the neighborhood. No one else in the veterinary field in the US has opened a new practice with an eye towards style, comfort and personality. No one has pushed the envelope on design with the interiors. We did.”
Upcycled pallet wood serves as wainscoting. Doors to exam rooms roll along an industrial-modern steel track. High ceilings leave ductwork and electrical exposed, providing a welcome spaciousness to a compact office.
A vintage photo booth, complete with custom-fitted pet bench, graces the waiting room, inviting clients and passersby alike to take snapshots with their four-leggeds. Custom wallpaper made from hand-picked old photos of people and pets graces the walls of the exam rooms. Vintage paint-by-number animal portraits in the bathroom further evoke the nostalgic vibe.
Our Seattle project manager led the crew of Hammer & Hand carpenters and subcontractors to turn the project around with speed and agility, giving the “front of house” spaces the hand-crafted care they needed, and the “back of house” medical spaces the sterile precision they demanded.
“Everyone took a really collaborative approach to the project,” said Cherri, “creating a functional space with an aesthetic that is true to the essence of Urban Animal.”
– Zack (Connect with me at +ZacharySemke)Back to Field Notes