Sure to become ground zero for many a hipster love story, NoLibs' first full-service, privately owned veterinary clinic is scheduled to open in early 2013. Northern Liberties Veterinary Center is currently under construction at 1015 North American Street, retooling an existing rigid metal-frame building. Flourtown's Morrissey Design is the design firm behind the renovation, which will complement the neighborhood as appropriately as mustaches and too-tight Levis.
The 2,100 square-foot practice will have a decidedly cool vibe to attract younger clientele; the building's industrial-contemporary aesthetic will come complete with a corrugated, painted metal facade and bold supergraphics of the practice's logo. Inside, accents of green and orange will pop against white walls and vinyl flooring, while cross-shaped lobby seating and an astroturf pet exercise area will lend to the funky feel. Lucky for the practice's future clients, the lot at the Piazza will supply plenty of parking spots.
We spoke with clinic owner Dr. Maya Pirok about design choices, the neighborhood, and Tastykakes.
What made you decide to set up your practice in NoLibs?
"First and foremost, my goal was to fill a void and create a full-service veterinary hospital for Northern Liberties and surrounding neighborhoods. I've lived in the neighborhood for eight years now, and I've watched it grow into an up-and-coming, structured area with lots to offer."
A "contemporary-industrial" aesthetic seems like an unusual choice for a vet practice. What gives?
"It's sort of a corrugated metal garage! Everyone assumed we'd want to tear down the existing building and start from scratch, but James [Morrissey of Morrissey Design] came up with a cost-effective way to build upon the original design. We were able to create a cool industrial-modern building that complements surrounding architecture."
How did you go about collaborating on a design that's appealing to both people and pets?
"You have to take everyone's comfort into consideration, from the employees and staff to clients and patients, and you have to be mindful of little details. For example, choosing the right floor surface so it's not too slippery for the animals, and creating little alcoves where a cat can hide out when a dog barks. With our space limitations, we did whatever we could to create a comfortable environment."
What do you love most about the space?
"The entrance. James was able to work within my budget and create this really cool undulating effect on the facade by using angled glass. I also love that the facade's two horizontal windows are set at eye-height for both people and the animals. There's a little catwalk along the lower window where the dogs and cats can walk up and engage while the clients check out. We also have an astroturf yard, which provides a great space for dogs to exercise and play."
You can't walk anywhere in Northern Liberties without almost tripping over a leash. Do you expect that dogs will comprise the bulk of your patient list, or are cats more de rigueur these days?
"If I had to guess based on the dog park activity, I would guess we'll see at least 60 to 65 percent dogs, but you never know how many cats a person has at home."
On that note, how many cats before a person becomes a bona fide cat hoarder?
"I wanna say like 4 to 5. Once you're in the 4 to 5 range it's a slippery slope."
Final question: Which food will send a dog to your practice more quickly: cheesesteaks or Tastykake Kandy Kakes?
"I'd guess that the Tastykakes will earn the dog a faster ticket to the practice because pet parents are always afraid of chocolate toxicity. But once the effects of those cheesesteaks hit, all hell will break loose."