Dental Office

Dental Office

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?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tips/Guidelines for Commercial Tenant Improvements and Remodels

After 18 years as an Architect in the business of commercial tenant improvements ("TI's") and interior remodels, I have my fair share of valuable experience to pass along to anyone involved in such a project. I hope the following tips/guidelines help:

1. The Beginning: What is your goal, dream, vision, business model, passion?! Consult your Accountant and Financial Advisor and look at your financial situation, the market, marketing strategies. Are you expanding, opening your own office, partnering, relocating?

2. Lender: This is everything. Work with the appropriate lender for your project type (some, if not all lenders specialize in specific niches or areas of business). Lending institutions differ in what they can offer regarding downpayment, rates, LTV info, payments, etc. We work with lenders to provide necessary information during the process.

3. Location. Location. Location!: Determine your best location for success. New clientele? Will current clientele follow you? What are the demographics for the area (a Broker can help with that)? Does the location have good visibility/access from major streets? What are the adjacent or nearby businesses (will they help support yours)? Is the location convenient for you and clientele? What is your daily commute? What amenities are in the area that can help support your business? What are the signage options/locations for office visibility and advertising?

4. Broker: Work with someone who listens and understands your business/career goals. A Broker can search and give you the information you need to make informative decisions for business success. Your Broker can get you the best deal possible for your space and budget. We work with Brokers to provide necessary information during the process.

5. Architect: Contact an Architect sooner than later in the process to help determine the amount of space required for your needs and budget. An Architect can work with you, the lender and the Broker as part of a team. An Architect can prepare a Space Plan showing how the requirements fit (or don't fit!) into the space at which you're considering. An Architect can consult on design, schedule, process, City Permits, construction drawings, builders, etc. The Architect also works with the Engineers required to complete the plans for a Building Permit. Many Clients hire an Architect after they have already signed the Purchase/Lease Agreement "locking" them in to the space, so the Architect has to "force" the design and "make it work". It would be better to engage an Architect sooner to help in the selection of a space based on the criteria.

6. Design/Construction Drawings "Plans": Coordinate with your staff early in the process to create the best design at the start. Think about any details you want, the day-to-day needs, what works and does not work in your current office. Obtain all the specifications (sometimes known as "cutsheets")/information on any equipment for design and enginering purposes (electrical requirements, exhaust, heat gain, plumbing line, etc.). Get your I.T. person involved for input, server requirements, electrical needs. Get your equipment supplier involved early for coordination and equipment purchase. Follow up phone conversations with emails so communication is clear and accessible/retrievable (memories are short!). Create a folder/file specific to the project to keep documents, drawings, correspondence. CAREFULLY REVIEW ALL design drawings/documents sent to you for review/signature of approval. Call the Architect if you have any questions. Time is money, so the more efficient and responsive in a timely manner you are, the more money you can save.

7. Builder/Contractor: Use a competent Contractor with experience in your project type. Use a commercial Contractor (NOT a residential Contractor for a commercial project - the 2 are entirely different). Take Preliminary Cost Estimates provided by Contractors with a grain of salt. Without ALL of the construction drawings, Contractors can only make assumptions and estimations. Final Bids are almost always more than prelims., so consider a contingency in your budget. Beware - changing the design during construction or adding to it could cost you more money. Give your Contractor timely information on finish selections, flooring, paint colors, cabinet materials/finishes, appliance sizes/types, TV and monitor mounting locations/heights. CAREFULLY REVIEW the Contractor's Bid with the Contractor BEFORE signing the Construction Contract. Discuss ALL project details, expectations, process, schedules (both construction and payment), and what is both INCLUDED and EXCLUDED from the Bid.

8. Marketing/Promotions/Advertising: Consider working with a marketing professional or a graphic designer for logo design, signage ideas, business cards, brochures, etc. Launch or update your website and maintain good, consistent social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Electronic Newsletters, etc.). Offer promotions, discounts, loyalty rewards, specials to bring in business. Have a Grand Opening and/or Open House to engage the community. Send out post cards or create an ad in a movie theater or radio spot!