Practice Made Perfect: “Environment/Behavior Interface”
“Office environment perceptions affect behavior.” That’s the guiding principle behind additions and renovations to the Pyramid Dental Group, offices of Drs. Lisa B. Emirzian and Vincent J. Mariano in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Emirzian, a general dentist, and Mariano, a prosthodontist, are a husband-wife team with distinct practices, yet common beliefs about the impact of the dental environment on both patients and staff. Their renovations were overseen by Garrett B. Ludwig, President of Diversified Design Technologies, Inc. of Hartford*, Connecticut.
Fifteen hundred square feet of clinical and administrative space were added on the main level, and 300 square feet in the upper loft area to an existing 2,000 square foot structure. The new space was chiefly dedicated to administration, reception, staff area, and a commercial quality laboratory.
The design team was charged with creating an environment that promotes openness, reduces fears, and allows maximum communication. Ludwig was presented with a list of goals the dentists wished to achieve.
It included the following:
- Maintain areas for separate practices.
- Separate administrative space from clinical space.
- Design a centrally located consultation area.
- Create an environment that reflects the doctors’ passion for excellence.
- Involve staff members in decision-making.
- The office should be run like a business, but not look like a business.
- In order to reduce noise, carpeting, high-acoustical value ceiling tiles, wall insulation, furniture, and the separation of reception from service areas were used.
Daylight from a dome skylight, combined with the open space enhanced by sloped, oak ceilings and balconies creates a feeling of relaxation and comfort. The production of artificial “natural” light enhances color-matching, an important feature for a prosthetics practice.
The standard “do’s and don’ts” of color selection (e.g., green has a psychologically calming effect) were disregarded. Instead, color and texture selections were based on the personalities of the clinicians, staff, and patient base, as well as on the structure itself, the interior space, and the furnishings. The result is a vibrant and inviting space.
Patient amenities include private courtesy phones, fresh floral arrangements, original artwork, and soothing music. Privacy, confidentiality, and comfort are assured in several ways. Clinical and administrative spaces are divided by shared, ancillary support facilities. Patient files, insurance forms, and business equipment are hidden behind neatly appointed partitions.
Ludwig says the success of the project was due largely to the commitment of his clients to “develop a world-class dental facility,” and to commit the time and resources necessary to plan the project thoroughly and see it through to completion.