‘Diamond in the rough’: Practice takes ‘remodel’ category in first Design Innovation Awards
December 02, 2019
Editor’s note: In 2019, the ADA launched the Design Innovation Awards, a program that recognizes excellence in dental practices that seamlessly combine esthetic appeal, function and design. The program features two categories: one for newly built practices and another for renovated practices. This article features the winner in the “renovation” category. The Design Innovation Awards is a collaborative effort managed by the ADA Council on Dental Practice, ADA Member Advantage and BMO Harris Bank. More information on the program and this year’s winners in both categories is available at ADA.org/DIA.
Welcome: Patients are welcomed in a lobby that utilizes a color palette inspired by Pewabic Pottery, a studio and school in Detroit known for its iridescent glazes in rose, green, gold, purple and copper.
— For about 15 years, Dr. Robin Henderson practiced in an office she purchased soon after dental school. It was a typical nondescript 1970s-style structure with narrow hallways; the landscaping always seemed unfinished and dirty; and the parking lot could fit two, maybe three cars, depending on the size of the vehicles.
In 2014, Dr. Henderson decided to look for a new location and ended up finding, what she describes as the perfect “diamond in the rough,” in a former chiropractor’s office located only a block away from where she had practiced for more than a decade.
“Nothing was updated from 1975,” said Scott Henderson, practice manager and Dr. Henderson’s husband, when describing the chiropractor’s office. “You really needed a vision and imagination, and the willingness to seeing it through.”
That vision, hard work and commitment have paid off. Dr. Henderson said many of her long-term patients are amazed by the before and after differences in the new space. In her old practice, they often commented every time the Hendersons gave the walls a new coat of paint.
“They often joked that they see what they’re paying for,” Dr. Henderson said. “This remodeled practice is almost their own project. It’s for them.”
Oasis: The landscaping has turned Dr. Henderson's practice lawn into a beautiful, calming oasis for her, her patients and her staff. Her local Girl Scouts group often meets outside the practice where they use large rocks as places to sit.
Today, the remodeled 3,200-square-foot facility is a technology-forward office that fully integrates the practice’s digital workflow from utilizing chairside economical restoration of esthetic ceramics, or CEREC, and cone beam computed tomography to 3D printing.
The practice’s new patient room includes glass walls adorned with a large fingerprint, which serves as a reminder that each patient is unique and deserves a unique treatment plan.
A sound-masking system keeps conversations private throughout the office. Nearly all of the lighting is LED of varying color temperature. Cabinets in treatment rooms and the sterilization area don’t have handles that sometimes catch on headlight cords or uniforms. The practice also has enough space for large private lockers for the members of the dental team, plus separate kitchen, break and conference rooms.
New patient: The practice’s new patient room includes glass walls adorned with a large fingerprint, which serves as a reminder that each patient is unique and deserves a unique treatment plan.
The renovation was the result of a lot of effort and work, said Mr. Henderson, who acknowledged that they had a great team supporting them.
The renovation began in November 2016. When the contractor wasn’t able to fully meet their needs in the finishing details, Dr. Henderson enlisted the services of her 80-year-old father.
“My dad, who is a builder, came in and did the finishing work,” she said. “Mobility is hard for him so he couldn’t have done all the heavy labor. But it was a huge blessing. Now I get to have my dad’s work surround me. That was something we could never have planned.”
For landscaping, one of Dr. Henderson’s patients suggested a local landscaper, Brenda Walker. Ms. Walker, Dr. Henderson said, has turned the landscaping into a beautiful, calming oasis for her, her patients and her staff. Her local Girl Scouts group often meets outside the practice where they use large rocks as places to sit.
Hallway: A sound-masking system keeps conversations private throughout the office. Nearly all of the lighting is LED of varying color temperature.
“What I learned is to rely on the professionals you work with,” Mr. Henderson said. “The same way that patients come to rely on Robin’s expertise. I was just so impressed with the architects, plumbers, electricians, her dad, Brenda, our banker, the entire team.”
When it came to the interior design, however, Dr. Henderson planned the design features herself.
The color palette for the practice was inspired by Pewabic Pottery, a studio and school in Detroit known for its iridescent glazes in rose, green, gold, purple and copper. Dr. Henderson often visited the studio while attending the University of Michigan dental school. The studio is now a National Historic Landmark.
“The end result of our remodel project for a new office was worth all of the effort that went into it,” Dr. Henderson said. “I think dentists are well-suited for the process as they are used to visualizing the end before they begin, and I enjoyed bringing that visualization to reality.”