"One plum wall says it all," an article about VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital on www.hospitaldesign.net begins. Rauhaus Architects head Richard Rauh must have smiled when he read it. "We weren't drinking, but we were having fun with the design," the Lake Forest architect says of the night he and a veterinary surgeon used a drafting pencil like a scalpel to bisect their floor plan: defining treatment spaces, boarding spaces, and giving the lofty lobby some serious design competition. (A few gallons of Dunn-Edwards Kabuki Plum paint didn't hurt either—though when an architect says "plum" on the phone, you immediately think he means "plumb," as in "straight up and down.")
The Lake Forest hospital, completed last year, proved serious competition of its own, going on to be named the 2005 Hospital of the Year in the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition. And even if assorted Pomeranians, Abyssinians and budgerigars don't appreciate it, their owners should.