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Washington Square Park Dental | Notes of Interest

For this dentistry office located on the west edge of Washington Square Park in San Francisco, the main design goals involved maximizing the impression of space and length in the 1900-square-foot building and seamlessly bringing in elements of light and aesthetics from the exterior park all the way throughout the space.

With a desire to emphasize natural light as one of the main features of the office space—an element usually underutilized in dentists’ offices—a strategy of permeation was put into play. Natural light floods into the space from the front windows all the way through to the back of the office space, despite the office’s linear composition that includes five private patient operatory rooms. This is accomplished through the use of “floss” walls: the individual patient operatories are separated by semi-translucent partitions that filter natural light through the rooms while simultaneously protecting patient privacy. The only light sources are natural light and recessed trough lighting.

To extend the spatial depth of the relatively small space and establish a connection to the outside environment, aesthetic elements of the park were drawn into the interior. Low-irrigation interior landscaping is arranged in a beautiful steel perimeter separating polished river rocks from recycled glass. The long, interior entry ramp is framed by this linear garden, and it continues all the way from the exterior of the building down the length of the space to create a series of individual gardens for each of the patient operatories. This view down the entire length of the office is immediately available to the patient upon entrance.

A truly lovely component of this project is the balance of aesthetics and functionality in the meticulous details. The ins and outs of this project always seem to act as both visually and pragmatically useful. The fun, lighthearted walls that run the entire length of the grounds, constructed of custom perforated panels over carpet tile, are actually used as acoustic noise-dampeners. The beautiful, uplit, horizontal slot formed between the volumes of wood and steel in the waiting area’s wall structure allows patients to see down the hall, while also serving as an x-ray table! The use of the garden’s formation, the meticulously chosen materials and the beveled ceiling all serve to calm the patients visually, while also spreading the space’s length and propelling light into the depths of the place.

Numerous sustainable initiatives are seen throughout the construction and design. Along with its location within walking distance to numerous public transportation options as well as near a plethora of banks, restaurants, and retail shops, the project also surpasses sustainability standards for reducing water usage and lighting power density. Additionally, more than 20% of the project’s construction materials are locally-sourced, more than 20% of the materials are comprised of recycled content, more than 10% of the materials are reused/ salvaged, and more than 50% of waste was diverted from the landfill. Overall, this project is a refreshing achievement in terms of its emphasis on sustainability, and its design is definitely a breath of air to the community… not to mention its patients!

Additional Credits

  • General Contractor: Norcal Construction Management Services
  • Engineer: Julia Y. Chen Design, Inc. (Structural) ; Acies Engineering (MEP Engineer)
  • Lighting Consultant: John Brubaker Architectural Lighting Consultants
  • Landscape Architect: Venice Studio
  • Photo Credit: © Mitch Tobias

Washington Square Park Dental

  • Architect: Montalba Architects, Inc.
  • Owner: Washington Square Park Dental;
  • Dr. Sara Creighton, DDS and Dr. Jared Pool, DDS
  • Location: San Francisco

Jury Comments

Clever details and ideas are all over this skinny-budget project. From the acoustic wall to the light table element to the indoor-outdoor connection, this project elevates the dental office to hip, new levels.

It delightfully shows what you can do with a small space on a tight budget through a design that is visually very interesting and highly functional.

The use of serene glowing material, soothing color, simple planes of form, and a clear, open, yet structured, plan calms the nerves and sets a stage like no other dentist office.

2011 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture Jury

  • John Ronan, AIA, (Chair)
  • John Ronan Architects
  • Chicago
  • Jaime Canaves, FAIA
  • Florida International University-
  • School of Architecture
  • Miami
  • Margaret Kittinger, AIA
  • Beyer Blinder Belle Architects
  • New York City
  • Brian Lewis
  • The Capital Group Companies
  • Irvine, Calif.
  • Brian Malarkey, AIA
  • Kirksey
  • Houston

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