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Milwaukie bank vault goes to the dogs

Kim Freeman, an oncologist, and John Wooldridge, a surgeon, are merging their practices April 19 into a new comprehensive veterinary cancer and surgery clinic, at 10400 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: MAHLUM ARCHITECTS - In the old bank vault turned into an X-ray room, 12-inch-thick concrete walls act as a safety barrier.Veterinary Cancer & Surgery Specialists will be the only clinic providing surgery and oncology for dogs and cats under one roof in the state. Some of their current clients drive from the coast or Bend for treatment for their pets every one to two weeks, so a location with easy freeway access and nearby amenities was important.

“When we toured the old bank, the location seemed like a natural fit,” Freeman said. “There are comfortable cafes, parks and other places for a pet owner to pass a few hours while their dog is undergoing treatment.”

Mahlum Architects designed the renovation of the 1970s bank, which most recently housed the Clackamas Federal Credit Union, to house the clinic; Triplett Wellman was the general contractor. Project designer Alyssa Leeviraphan said, “Our biggest challenge was finding the best place for a linear accelerator that will be installed after the clinic opens. The old drive-thru lanes at the rear of the bank made the most sense, so treatment areas radiate out from there. We were also able to repurpose the old bank vault into an X-ray room — its 12-inch-thick concrete walls act as a safety barrier. For a little fun, we left the old vault door in place.”

The 7,000-square-foot renovation was completed on a tight budget — funds were mostly spent on the interiors. The double-height former teller area has been transformed into treatment space. To add warmth and character, existing cedar paneling in the teller area was preserved and wood accents placed throughout the rest of the clinic. Extensive windows provide views to downtown; the woods behind the clinic will be a new healing garden, which is designed to help relieve stress for clients and staff.

Artist Peter Helzer is installing a cast aluminum and bronze dog-bone mobile and dog sculpture for the reception area.

Mayor Jeremy Ferguson plans to attend the opening. “We welcome new businesses such as the veterinary clinic to Milwaukie,” he said. “Milwaukie has been on the cusp of major revitalization for many years. When the new Orange Line opens next year, I think more of Portland will discover how awesome Milwaukie is.”