Because of growth in staff and an expansion in the number and size of advisory bodies including councils, committees, and task forces, the Executive Board in June 2006 approved spending $1.96 million to expand office and conference space at AVMA headquarters. What are some key features of the remodeling on the second and fifth floors?
J. Karl Wise, PhD, AVMA associate executive vice president, responds:
We substantially expanded the size and number of our meeting rooms by renovating 7,000 square feet of unoccupied space on the building's second floor. For example, the new 2,000-square-foot conference room is 33 percent larger than the previous conference room. We've enhanced the overall meeting space by giving it flexibility with moveable walls that can create smaller meeting rooms, and through the integration of state-of-the-art technology such as wireless networks and enhanced projection systems.
We've also added four communication carrels, one on the fifth floor and three on the second floor, that allow volunteers on AVMA entities access to telephones and computers. Previously, a volunteer who wanted to use a telephone or send an e-mail would have to use an empty staff cubicle.
Also on the second floor, we've created a volunteer lounge area with two seating areas and a flat-screen TV. Those who are away from their homes and places of employment can use the lounge to make phone calls or to just relax. It also provides a more comfortable place for dialogue among volunteers.
On the fifth floor, in place of the previous conference center, are 20 work spaces and a new small conference room. The area yields a net gain of 18 work spaces. Of those, six are offices and 12 are cubicles. With the expansion of the Communications Division and Animal Welfare Division, new work spaces were a critical need of the Association.
How will the remodeling affect AVMA members?
I was employed at the AVMA in 1991 when the Association moved into the current building, which was a substantial step for the AVMA in terms of expanding its space. We knew that the organization was dynamic and was continuing to grow. We moved in with 82 staff members, including at the Washington, D.C., office, and now we're up to 138 positions. Before this remodeling, we faced a shortage of office and conference space and knew we had to find a solution to continue to meet our membership's needs. Members expect the AVMA to provide leadership and solutions on critical issues facing the profession. This requires greater investment in personnel with expertise in many professional areas to work with councils and committees on AVMA's important initiatives.
The conference center is really a tool for volunteers to collaborate, strategize, and use to build relationships with colleagues, constituents, and leaders of other organizations. Through the use of technology, volunteers can share and access information from various sources and in various formats electronically. This is a much-needed improvement for the organization.
The AVMA volunteers are going to enjoy the new facility. If members have an opportunity to come to the Association headquarters, we highly encourage and welcome them to visit the new office and conference space.
As project coordinator, what was your main challenge?
With any construction project, the main challenge is the intersection of design, budget, and construction. There are unanticipated needs in the construction process. Though you build contingency into your budget, the architect will design the space and sometimes there are construction decisions that must be made that can affect design and have budgetary implications. Overall, we had a superb project team, and we kept the project on budget while maintaining a good sense of the design. It's our belief that the new conference center will serve the Association well for many years to come.