Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A healing space with history

Health and heritage mix at Exchange District clinic

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The visionary team of interior designer Renee Martel (from left), pharmacist/manager Jeff Froese, director/manager Dr. Meer Janjua and Arnott + Associates  owner Leah Arnott worked together to achieve the perfect balance of old and new in the creation of Exchange District walk-in clinic/pharmacy, Clinic 1.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The visionary team of interior designer Renee Martel (from left), pharmacist/manager Jeff Froese, director/manager Dr. Meer Janjua and Arnott + Associates owner Leah Arnott worked together to achieve the perfect balance of old and new in the creation of Exchange District walk-in clinic/pharmacy, Clinic 1. Photo Store

It's probably fitting the only walk-in clinic/pharmacy in the city's west Exchange District doesn't look like a conventional walk-in clinic/pharmacy.

For starters, there is the sheer volume of the roughly 4,800-square-foot space located on the ground floor of an historic, seven-storey, warehouse-turned-office building on the southwest corner of King Street and McDermot Avenue. The ceilings in the reception/waiting room area are about 4.6 metres high, with the heating ducts and other parts of the building's mechanical system fully exposed.

Then there are the towering windows which run the length of one wall, flooding the room with natural light. Wood-slat partitions, made from recycled rail-car lumber, are used to create a series of waiting rooms within the waiting room to give patients more privacy.

The decor is also unusual for a medical office. It's a blend of modern and rustic elements, with one wall made from recycled bricks and another painted a contemporary colour -- orange.

"I'd always had this vision of having a completely different medical clinic," Dr. Meer Janjua, the driving force behind the creation of Clinic 1, explained during a recent interview.

Janjua said he wanted to create a warm and relaxing atmosphere that included a blend of new and old design features. And the interior designers he hired -- Leah Arnott and Renee Martel of Arnott + Associates -- had the same vision for the space.

"It's a heritage building, so that makes it an atypical space," Martel said.

"I have a lot of respect for historical buildings, so it wasn't a foreign thing for us to envision this. It was definitely a collaborative effort," Arnott added.

Arnott said the design concept they used was based on a streetscape concept. The clinic rooms were designed to imitate "buildings within a building," each with their own refurbished, antique wooden door

And no two doors are alike.

To create a rustic look, they also incorporated things like reclaimed wood, brick, aged steel and concrete tile. To add even more warmth, they used things such as earthy carpet tile and comfortable seating.

A modern aesthetic was achieved through the lighting fixtures, furniture and the way they organized the space.

The clinic/pharmacy is located on the main floor of the 104-year-old Maltese Cross Building. Janjua said he stumbled upon the space almost by accident while checking out some space in a much newer building in the area.

"I'm a bit of a Renaissance man. I like nice things and old, strong buildings, and when I walked by this building and saw... there was nobody in it, I said, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could get an old heritage building like this.' "

Janjua, a family physician, is one of three health practitioners working in Clinic 1. The others are a naturopath and a chiropractor. The pharmacy is managed by pharmacist Jeff Froese, who leases his space from the clinic.

Janjua and Froese said the building, and the design of the clinic, seem to have made quite an impression on their patients.

"Everybody just loves it," Froese said. "They love the design because it's totally different from any other clinic. And they love the location... and the overall look of the building. If they have to wait (for a prescription to be filled), the wait is a whole lot more enjoyable."

Janjua said he wanted to open a walk-in clinic/pharmacy in the west Exchange District because he lives in the area and knew one was needed.

He and Froese said the volume of business has been steadily increasing since the clinic opened in January even though they've done little marketing so far and don't even have a sign on the building -- something Janjua hopes to correct within the next few weeks.

They said the people coming into the clinic/pharmacy have included residents and workers from the neighbourhood along with patients from the Pembina Highway clinic where Janjua used to work.

Because he also runs the surgical ward at Winnipeg's Grace Hospital, Janjua is only able to spend about 12 days of the month at Clinic 1. That's why he's in the process of recruiting another family physician for the clinic.

He said if the Clinic 1 concept works well here he might try to duplicate it in another Canadian city.

"But it would have to be in a unique building," he noted.

 

Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 3, 2013 B4

History

Updated on Monday, June 3, 2013 at 6:48 AM CDT: replaces photo

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