A Conversation with the 2015 Design Awards Winner


Martin Veterinary Centre in Kirkintilloch, Glasgow was the Winner in the Conversion Category as well as being the Overall Winner of the 2015 Design Awards.

Here is an interview with Lynn Martin, MRCVS the owner of Martin Veterinary Centre
in which she describes here experiences with the conversion build of a charming building on a marina.

Practice Name: Martin Veterinary Centre owned by Lynn Martin, MRCVS

Design Award for: Best Conversion and Overall Winner


Q1. Lynn, what were you trying to achieve/what was your overall goal?

A1. I always had a strong desire to build a veterinary centre to my own specifications. Having outgrown our existing surgery, and having found a possible new location in Kirkintilloch, I now had the opportunity to put this in to practice. I wanted to provide my staff, clients and patients with the very best purpose-built facilities that we could afford, designed to suit all our needs, in a relaxed, friendly environment.


Q2. What were the 3 most important factors included in your practice design?

A2. The three most important factors were –

  1. Efficient use of space.
  2. Good ‘flow’.
  3. Maximising natural light.


Q3. Did you use an architect and/or a project manager, Lynn? If not why not?

A3. I didn’t use an architect because I had a clear idea of what I wanted and needed, since I had been designing a purpose-built practice in my head for the last 32 years! All staff were also involved in making a wish list and many of their suggestions were incorporated in to the design where possible. My husband, who has a background in surveying and cartography, was able to draw up the floor plans that I had in my mind on to which we arranged scale cut-outs of our equipment. We then spent innumerable hours marking out wall partitions in the new building until a layout was finalised. We then employed a surveyor as Project Manager to deal with the technical issues and oversee the construction.


Q4. Did you keep within your budget? If not by what percent did you exceed your budget?

A4. We kept within our equipment budget but the building costs exceeded our budget by 18%.


Q5. Lynn, what parts of your project went as you expected, what parts did not and what would you have done differently?

A5. The initial planning and design process went very smoothly but we had several problems with the Project Manager including his dealings with, and payment delays to sub-contractors and his lack of producing relevant documentation. On reflection, I should have had a much more binding and more detailed contract with the Project Manager.


Q6. How has this changed your business?

A6. The new premises provide a much more pleasant working environment and have attracted many new clients. We are able to work far more efficiently, provide new and improved services and have introduced visiting specialists who carry out clinics in our centre.  This has all led to increased client numbers and turnover.


Q7. What has winning the Design Award meant to you personally, Lynn?

A7. For the last 32 years, I have been quietly working away in the veterinary profession and was delighted to be able to fulfil my dream of building my own purpose-built veterinary centre. To have had such approval and recognition of my design by a team of distinguished judges from the veterinary profession has been the highlight of my career and achieving such an accolade has meant much to me, my family, my staff and the community.


Q8. Was the project very stressful? What was the most stressful situation?

A8. At times the project was very stressful. I have already mentioned issues with the Project Manager which led to the project running a month behind schedule. As a result, on the day of moving from the old premises, the new practice was not completely finished. Another major stress was trying to co-ordinate the transfer of phones, computer systems, kennels and X-ray equipment from one location to another over the course of a weekend and make them all operational for the usual busy Monday morning clinics.


Q9. Lynn, who were the main suppliers that you used?

A9. The main suppliers I used were

  • Geeling for kennels
  • Eickemeyer Vet and Burtons Veterinary Equipment for theatre equipment.
  • Vet Direct for smaller theatre and prep room items.
  • AT Veterinary systems for all IT equipment.
  • Scotrad for radiography equipment.
  • Deacon Brothers for office furnishings and purpose-built reception desk.
  • Howdens Building supplies for work units.



Q10. What features are particularly important to you and are you pleased with the results?

A10. The features that are most important to me are -

  • Stunning water-side location in the heart of the community.
  • A compact, secure and easily accessible pharmacy.
  • Three glass-partitioned operating theatres providing maximum natural light.
  • Extensive storage to minimise clutter.
  • Air-conditioned and sound-proofed cat and dog wards with isolation facilities.
  • Ceiling heating panels saving wall-space.
  • Key–fob door system for easy access but good security.



Q11. Are your staff and clients pleased with the results, Lynn?

A11. Staff and clients are all delighted with the results, the layout of which is perfectly suited to our needs. The clients particularly like –

  • Twelve dedicated parking spaces right plus another two disabled bays, right outside the building.
  • Picture window views over the marina from the large, spacious waiting room creating a tranquil, non-clinical ambience.
  • Three wheelchair-friendly consulting rooms, one extra large for huge dogs and huge families!
  • Quiet rooms for clients to be with their pets at those difficult times.

The staff particularly like –

  • The removable partition between the dog and cat waiting areas allowing a larger space for puppy parties and staff meetings.
  • Discreet viewing panels in consulting room doors to allow staff to easily locate their colleagues.
  • A bright, airy and accessible prep room with open-plan lab area and recovery area.
  • A suite of toilets and showers serviced by outside contractors, much to the delight of our staff who now have no toilet cleaning duties!



Q12. Lynn, what tips do you have for others contemplating a building /refurbishment project?

A12.  I would say that the most important points to consider are –

·         To choose the right location with adequate parking. Also,

·         To finalise all the details and measurements at the planning stages.

·         Have a solid and detailed contract with Project Manager before building begins.

·         Involve all members of your team throughout the process. It is important for them to be consulted, listened to and valued.


Even after our move, it has taken many months to achieve the final finished result. It has been an exciting, fulfilling and sometimes stressful journey but so worthwhile to all those involved. We are all very proud of our new surgery and absolutely delighted that the judges found us worthy winners of the award. I know that we are not the biggest, most high-tech or cutting-edge veterinary practice, so it made it even more special that the judges liked what we had designed with little outside help and without having a huge budget.

I have received many congratulations from clients, the local business community, Glasgow University, our local MSP, Scottish BVA and BSAVA. I have also been visited by three other veterinary practices who were hoping to build new premises. They read about and liked our design when it was published in the Veterinary Practice magazine and I have been delighted to show them around and hopefully help them a little with some tips and advice.