Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Owner: Dr. Mona Patel, DDS
Contractor: Design 2 Construct
Located along a mature retail corridor in a Milwaukee suburb, this project reinvents an abandoned commercial building and transforms the upper level into a state-of-the-art dental clinic. Originally an ordinary two-story infill building with windows only along the street, the demolition of an adjacent structure and subsequent creation of a small pocket park turned the building’s exposed firewall into a prominent blank façade. A young dentist acquired the dilapidated building with the intention to rehabilitate it for her practice. After gutting the existing building, large openings were cut into the existing firewall to animate the building’s appearance and increase visibility of the new ground floor retail space. On the upper level, a series of new floor-to-ceiling windows draw natural light deep inside the dental clinic, with their articulated wooden box frames adding warmth to the exterior. The new two-story lobby takes patients up to the entrance of the dental clinic, where a framed threshold leads into the light-filled waiting room and reception area. The smooth high-sheen ceiling plane, which contrasts with the exposed wood trusses above, guides patients to the five individual operatories that are marked by green panels and sequence of thin lighting strips, which help animate the hallway space. Sliding glass doors assure separation and privacy while allowing natural light to filter through. White-oak cabinets and green-lacquered surfaces add visual richness. Custom built-in cabinets and dental furniture in the operatories match the whites and grays of the interior surfaces, contributing to a deliberately quiet and serene ambience for patients.
Jury Comment: “This dental clinic stood out because of the clarity of the program and execution of all the details. The architect took what otherwise may be a pretty mundane experience and elevated it to an architectural experience. Just as dentistry is a science of exactness and rigor, this building exhibits those qualities in its architecture. As a whole, it is a very complete project that reinvents a non-descript commercial building.”
Photos: John J. Macaulay