Dental Office

Dental Office

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Vision Center of West Phoenix Project

I stopped by this recently-completed project of my design to take a few quick pics. This is my best commercial interior medical office project to date in my 19-year career here in Arizona. The Client and I were on the same page all the way. Walls of various colors as screens defining space instead of confining it. All elements clearly separated and expressed as planes about space. The design inspiration came from the likes of : The De Stijl Art Movement, and architects Mies Van Der Rohe and Luis Barragan. I even created my own art piece specifically for the space hanging in the waiting room. A complete synthesis of function, art, ideas, simplicity, clarity and beauty!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright and Longevity

Mr. Wright’s Organic architecture “returns us to our natural biorhythms in connection with nature” said an original homeowner. We are so fortunate to still have some original Frank Lloyd Wright clients/homeowners with us, though the number is declining with each passing year (Mr. Wright’s doctor, Mr. Joe Rorke, recently passed away in his 90's). We are also grateful to have some of those who lived and worked with Wright here to pass down personal stories and teachings to the next generation. There is a wealth of knowledge still among us that we must continue to appreciate and not take for granted. To know that those having direct contact with Mr. Wright can still share their wisdom after 50 years or more is a testament to their longevity.

I have had the great fortune of traveling the country over the years visiting nearly all of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes and buildings (even staying the night in a few). The experience, inspiration and knowledge gained from not only seeing the work first-hand, but listening to the stories told by original owners is an education not to be had any other way.

During my conversation with several original homeowners, it occurred to us that there were a lot of Wright clients who lived (and are still living) to be quite advanced in years. After some quick research, it was discovered that many lived well into their 80’s, 90’s and even 100 and beyond (most noticeably Wright’s son, David, who passed at 102, and his wife Gladys at 104!!). A lengthy list of Wright Clients and their ages was developed, just going back to the 1930’s. So, at least as far as the Usonian period goes, there were/are several dozen octogenerians and nonagenerians. Just as a side note, many of Wright’s apprentices lived and continue to live long, productive lives as well.

Is there a correlation between Wright’s architecture and the homeowners’ length of life? The research seems shows some kind of correlation. If so, then how? Could it be that Wright’s designs “return us to our natural biorhythms” as one homeowner postulated? Could it possibly be that Organic architecture’s principle of a close, harmonious relationship with Nature helps support the health of its occupants? Perhaps Mr. Wright’s organic architecture is so purely humane, peaceful, natural and beautiful as a work of art, helping nurture a desire within for a healthful lifestyle. Maybe being an integral part of the changing seasons, the birds, deer, garden, trees, helps reduce stress and thus more effectively sustains life itself. Can living in a home as a respite from noise and chaos also have a profoundly spiritual resonance with the soul making it dance and maybe keeping us in this world a little longer? One homeowner’s granddaughter exclaimed, “I can’t tell you how much the impact of the birds, and the light, and the openness and the harmony, and the beauty affected me”.

Nowhere else have I personally experienced such serenity, beauty, comfort, ease and joy as in a Frank Lloyd Wright home, and Wright received numerous client letters thanking him for this lifetime thrill of living in his creation. Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman wrote, “The beauty of the house defies verbal description, while utility is so married to beauty that the two become one”.

Wright once asked his apprentices if they felt they had contributed a note of concordance and sympathy with their fellow human family. I think the answer is quite apparent, and the fact that so many of his clients and apprentices went on to live happy, healthy, productive, fulfilled, long lives is confirmation enough that his architecture was the most attuned to that life ever created, inside or out.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Like Architect Craig Ellwood's Work....

Craig Ellwood ( is an architect whose California work I admire, at least from articles/photos I've seen. I have never personally experienced his buildings, but he was a disciple of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (, another one of my architectural mentors. Here is Craig Ellwood's design philosophy, which I greatly respect...

Craig Ellwood stated his architectural philosophy in the March 1976 issue of L.A. Architect:

"The essence of architecture is the interrelation and interaction of mass, space, plane and line. The purpose of architecture is to enrich the joy and drama of living. The spirit of architecture is its truthfulness to itself: its clarity and logic with respect to its materials and structure.
"Building comes of age when it expresses its epoch. The constant change in technology demands a continuously maturing expression of itself. When technology reaches its fulfillment in perfect equilibrium with function, there is a transcendence into architecture.
"The truth about truth is it is – waiting for us to discover it. The consciousness of truth is not static, but ever progressively unfolding. We must strive for intrinsic solution, not extrinsic effect. The moment form becomes arbitrary, it becomes novelty or style – it becomes something other than architecture. Materials and methods will certainly change, but the basic laws of nature make finally everything timeless.
"Architecture, by its own nature, must certainly be more than an expression of an idea. Art in architecture is not arbitrary stylism or ethereal symbolism, but rather the extent to which a building can transcend from the measurable into the immeasurable. The extent to which a building can evoke profound emotion. The extent to which a building can spiritually uplift and inspire man while simultaneously reflecting the logic or the technique which alone can convey its validity to exist."

House by Craig Ellwood
Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Dental Office Finished!!

Another happy dental Client!! We had spectacular collaboration in our design of this Family & Cosmetic Dentistry Office between the Client, dental equipment supplier and the contractor. What a great team effort! The colors are warm, soft and bright. We always try to introduce details, accents and lighting for artwork and to add interest to the space. It's a very calming, elegant, spa-like space!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pediatric Dental Office Just Completed!

We and the Client are all very pleased with our design and completion of this brand new pediatric dental office. The theme was an old time street fair with little shops to visit along the way. We used lots of color to hold children's interest and enliven the space. We even specified smaller chairs for kids in the game area of the Waiting Room (THE most important area, as far as the kids are concerned!). Hats off to the General Contractor, (Van Dental Construction), who did an amazing job all throughout construction. Thanks guys!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cost-Saving Concepts in New Custom Home Design

As an architect interested in getting the most out of the least regarding high quality design of custom modern homes that are still cost-effective, below is the most exhaustive list of cost-considerate design concepts that may help keep your new home project on budget:
1.  Reduce size (provide for the space you really NEED).
2.  Reduce # of materials.
3.  Reduce # of different Trades.
4.  Reduce material (reduce unnecessary height).
5.  Reduce labor/time.
6.  Simplify shape/"footprint".
7.  Reduce # of corners/turns/angles/curves.
8.  Reduce amount of built-in cabinets.
9.  Reduce # of plumbing fixtures (is a bidet really necessary).
10. Reduce electrical needs/equipment (no special lighting from Europe).
11. Reduce # of different paint colors (unless DIY).
12. Simplify roof shape(s) (no complex valleys, ridges, turrets, domes, etc.).
13. Use stock "off-the-shelf" materials/products.
14. Use local materials & labor (Home Depot/Lowe's are good resources).
15. Use materials in their natural way.
16. Utilize the machine (straight cuts - geometry).
17. Reduce # of finishes.
18. Utilize modular systems/design - grids.
19. Reduce waste of materials.
20. Flat sites with existing utilities are usually less costly than sloping sites.
21. Pre-fabrication can sometimes be more cost-effective.
22. Reduce frivolous accessories/applique/ornamentation.
23. Simplify the drawings and details - reduce # of sheets of plans.
24. Reduce # of doors/hardware if possible.
25. Maintain consistency throughout the home instead of a hodge-podge of different rooms.
26. Use passive solar design.
27. Kitchens & Baths are most expensive rooms - reduce, simplify.
28. Reduce "special-order" items that have long lead times.
29. Reduce # of times you change your mind during construction which leads to Change Orders.
30. Plan for essentials 1st, then work toward extras or bonuses.
31. Get Preliminary Cost Estimates during design to compare against budget.
32. Buy less expensive furniture, window coverings, accessories, fabrics - it all adds up.
33. Plan things in stages to eventually get all you want in due time. Patience saves $.
34. Reduce # of different roof materials.
35. Economize landscape/hardscape by maybe using younger, smaller plants. Use dryscapes.
36. Pools are expensive - be prudent with size, shape. Reduce # of pumps, etc.
37. Use as much open plan as possible - reduce # of walls that compartmentalize.
38. Shop around & compare everything - patience saves $.
39. Plan for future and install infrastructure now rather than after construction.
40. Good architectural design should not require much interior designer/decorator add-to's.
41. Try to use conventional construction/techniques/methods.
42. Do some of the work you can yourself.
43. Maybe use hollow core doors or even curtains at closets - solid core at bedrooms/baths.
44. Build your own furniture out of plywood and 1-by or shop garage sales and refurbish.
45. Combine/group plumbing areas to save on pipe lengths.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Optimista" in Black & White

We named our home "Optimista", Spanish for "optimist" (no secret there!) because that is how we feel about the home, our lives and our future. It is full of color and life in relation to the desert in Springtime (click on the "Optimista Home Remodel" tab to view).
However, I also love the 1950's, and the black & white photos of a bygone era (I was born too late!). I guess because of my photography background (and lots of time in the dark room - back in the early 90's), I like black & white because of the focus on composition (and some nostalgia). So, in that spirit, here are black and white photos of our home for a different perspective. Somehow it does feel like another time. What do you think?