digital edition

Solution of the Month

Open Up and Say Ah: A dental office embraces the greenery and daylight of an adjacent park.

August 2011
Montalba Architects

By David Sokol

Photo © Mitch Tobias Photographer
Click the image above to view more images of this month’s Solution of the Month.
Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----

As dentists go, Sara Creighton and Jared Pool march (or drill, or polish) to their own beat. To get the attention of Montalba Architects, which Creighton and Pool wanted to tap for designing a build-out dental office, they emailed the Santa Monica, California–based studio a Halloween photo of themselves in costume. Montalba Architects responded to the unique query, and produced an equally unusually stylish interior in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood that also is certified LEED-Silver.

“I almost didn’t call them back,” David Montalba remembers. But when he did, the architect was drawn into a long-running conversation about community service. “The clients chose the location for its neighborhood aspects, and we discussed the proximity to other local businesses and the park. This organically became a conversation about minimizing the environmental impacts on the community they serve, while of course maximizing the design impacts.”

Now in operation for a year, the 1,900-square-foot Washington Square Park Dental evokes the namesake park and larger North Beach. “We decided to mix industrial materials with landscape,” Montalba explains. To that end, long, hot-rolled and oil-rubbed steel boxes are filled with sanseveria plants and line the entry ramp into the reception and waiting area. The so-called interior garden reappears along the south wall of the five operatories. Daylight also reaches these rooms through translucent wall panels that do not compromise patient privacy. Montalba says, “Having a daylit space enhances everyone’s work. It also enhances the experience from a patient’s perspective.”

The architect custom-designed another partition within the dental office: perforated acoustical paneling that reconciles with light transmission and X-ray viewing requirements. Some of the wall prototypes had their origin in previous commissions.

To be sure, Washington Square Park Dental incorporates not-unfamiliar sustainability strategies in general. They include low-flow fixtures and Energy Star–rated equipment, controls for lighting and thermal comfort, and low-VOC materials that reduce the indoor air contaminants that could bother more sensitive patients. The closest observers may even recognize the vintage dental chairs that were purchased locally.

Montalba admits that, as a tenant-improvement project, its scope of sustainability was limited, but, “You just have to bend a bit to the circumstances and do the best with what you’ve got.” Although the office could not control water efficiency at a systems level, for example, the design team installed metering equipment that provides Creighton and Pool with real-time information about their consumption. “Ditto for lighting and mechanical equipment,” Montalba adds. “Sustainability today is much more about systems integration and taking advantage of a site’s inherent possibilities. It’s also about giving end users flexibility and intelligence about their environment.”


share: more »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
Click here to go to product info Page
Sweets, Search Building Products
Reader Feedback
Most Commented Most Recommended
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days
Recently Posted Reader Photos

View all photo galleries >>
Recent Forum Discussions

View all forum discusions >>