Studio Dental II

Architect: Montalba Architects

Owner: Studio Dental

Location: San Francisco, CA

Category C: Renovations/Remodeled: Primarily built within existing hospital or clinical space or adaptive reuse of an existing building to a healthcare use.

Situated within a rapidly developing neighborhood in San Francisco’s financial district, the dentists’ brick and mortar location is defined by a modern aesthetic, while honoring the historic elements of the base building. This creates a transcendent environment that feels gallery-like and serene. The design centers on a conceptual ‘lantern’ within the dark building core, which communicates a sense of scale, luminescence, and transparency, and envelopes the series of operatories within. The lantern wall panels not only light up the dark building shell, but also glow through the storefront to brighten the street. The lantern provides patient privacy while engaging with the pedestrian street front, in an effort to energize the surrounding community.  

In place of a common waiting room, a park-like bench extends the length of the space. Wood trellises provide separation between the bench and operatory rooms without closing off the space. Moments of material contrast are introduced between the rough shell walls, smoked mirror panels, and central colonnade of maple monoliths, which serve as functional storage and define the entry to each private patient room.

"[The project] creates an environment that is outside of the everyday—it adds sculptural, spatial drama to something that is usually institutional." ~ Jury comment

How this project improves patient healthcare

With the success of their first dental office, which is mobile and serves the greater San Francisco community, the clients desired a brick and mortar home. As a starting point, the clients wanted a design that reflected the progressive attitude of their practice. In their new location, they wanted to continue the community outreach they'd developed with the mobile office. The site they chose is in the heart of Tenderloin district, an area once home to a thriving music scene, now one of San Francisco’s most troubled neighborhoods. Their hope is that this project will play an active role in the ongoing revitalization of this community. Furthermore, the symbolic aim of the design is to project openness, warmth, and serenity for patients. The goal if for them to feel comfortable and relaxed as a way of improving their experience.

Additional information

Project attributes

Construction cost or anticipated construction cost: Withheld per Client's request

Building area or anticipated building area: 1,400 sq ft

Construction start date or anticipated construction start date: November 2016

Substantial completion date or anticipated substantial completion date: June 2017

Project team

Engineer - MEP:  ACIES Engineering

Engineer - Structural: Julia Y. Chen Design Inc.

General Contractor: Build Group

Lighting: Sean O'Connor

Lighting Fabricator - Millwork: Pacific Westline, Inc.


Marlon Blackwell, FAIA (Chair), Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Vincent Della Donna, AIA, Jackson, New Jersey

Brian Uyesugi, NBBJ, Seattle, WA

Sunil Shah, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California

Jim Henry, AIA, CallisonRTKL, Dallas, TX

Jocelyn Stroupe, CannonDesign, Chicago, IL

James Childress, FAIA, Centerbrook Architects, Centerbrook, Connecticut

Image credits

Studio Dental II-04

Kevin Scott


Kevin Scott


Kevin Scott


Kevin Scott


Kevin Scott