A Unique Dental Experience – Newhall, CA
Project Category - New Construction (completed April 1998)
Facility Contact - Dell Goodrick, DDS, (661) 254-4000
Firm - Simmons Design, (480) 348-0880
Design Team - Ron Simmons, President, Space Planning Design and Theming (Simmons Design); Craig Avner, Scenic Artist; Frank Manwarren, artificial tree, rock and water fabrication; Scott McKee, General Contractor (McKee Construction)
Patient/Bed Capacity - 5 treatment chairs
Total Building Area (sq. ft.) - 1,669 (leased space within the building)
Total Land Area (acres) - N/A
Total Cost - Approximately $420,000
Dr. Goodrick's aim, in starting his own practice, was to create a unique, visually stimulating, emotionally soothing environment where he could treat his patients. His goal was to practice where nature's surroundings, and the latest in dental technology, are intertwined to provide the best atmosphere for his patients' general and cosmetic dental needs. Each facet of the project was analyzed so that staff performance would be maximized and the patient would feel relaxed.
The doctor desired a Pacific Northwest Forest theme, reminiscent of his youth. Given that the space, located on the ground floor of a three-story, mixed-use commercial building, includes storefront windows, it was possible to create the illusion of being in the midst of a forest, both for those inside and for pedestrians passing by outside. Upon entering the office, patients are surrounded by actual running streams of water, trees, waterfalls and detailed murals of forestland. The sounds of the water, together with the “nature sounds” emitted from the sound system, transport patients from a typical dental office to a place where they can look around and relax, removing any anxiety.
From outside, viewers see a panorama of foliage, trees, streams, rustic cabin walls and creative lighting that beckon them inside. Visible from the outside is a consultation area within the doctor's private office, where his awards and credentials are displayed. A waterfall separating the consultation from the reception area, combined with the streams of running water, effectively creates a sound barrier, eliminating the need for additional interior walls.
Major themed features of the office are: trees that conceal structural columns, waterfalls and running streams of water, rock formations, wall murals, foliage and plant life (mostly artificial), wall treatments that simulate rustic cabins in the wilderness, flooring materials that simulate slate and wood planking, incandescent and low-voltage lighting, sound system that provides nature's sounds, and hidden lighting used to enhance and alter the scenes for seasonal change.
The building itself presented several design challenges. One of the most difficult issues revolved around creating an “open air” feeling with a raw ceiling height of only 11′ 4″ to the decking. The ceiling, together with all the trunk work, conduit and pipes, was painted two shades of green to blend with the foliage below, camouflaging the elements above the canopy that are not part of the theme. To further hide the system above, custom incandescent lanterns were hung just below the canopy with reflectors that restricted the light from bouncing up. This, in combination with the lamp's subtle glare, draws the viewer's eyes to the canopy and below, rather than to anything above it.
The storefront window was also problematic. The type and placement of lighting provided the solution by manipulating the impact of the daytime sun, thus leading one's focus to areas of interest. For example, carefully positioned, low-voltage lighting brings attention to features that “come to life” both during the day and after dark. Also, a 3′ waterfall/rock feature against the interior of the window, combined with attractive foliage above, conceals a dental chair from view from the outside, preserving patients' privacy but allowing pedestrians outside to view the interior scene. Likewise, the patient can view the panorama of the mountains outside without seeing pedestrians walk by.
The goal of the design was to provide all of the aesthetic details while enhancing efficiency, education and treatment. The setting promotes patient comfort and quick orientation to the reception counter. The office has reception seating for eight people, and two private and three semiprivate operatories, all identical in size and orientation. There are video monitoring systems in each operatory, used for patient education and entertainment; a lab and sterilization room; a private entrance for staff and deliveries; and a private office for the doctor. The checkout counter affords privacy and is out of the pedestrian path.
Most of the state-of-the-art equipment is located inconspicuously, so as not to distract from the forest theme. All OSHA requirements are met by the use of synthetic products that look “natural” but are washable, therefore inhibiting bacterial growth.
Considered in this unique application of a themed dental office, every detail of its design was paired to match with the doctor's requirements for staff efficiency, patient treatment and comfort, all while being in the middle of the “forest.” This truly makes it a “unique dental experience,” one that can be manageably maintained and altered as time goes on.