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Yes, you can go home again

Oct. 1, 2010
Congratulations to the winner of the 2009 Dental Office Design Competition for small practices, the practice of Dr. Andrew Glenn in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Dr. Michael Unthank, Architect and Geri True, ASID

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: Dr. Andrew Glenn, office design, Dr. Michael Unthank, going home.

Fig. 1: The office of Dr. Andrew Glenn

Congratulations to the winner of the 2009 Dental Office Design Competition for small practices, the practice of Dr. Andrew Glenn in Lincoln, Nebraska. This annual competition is sponsored by Dental Economics®, Wells Fargo Practice Finance (formerly Matsco), the American Dental Association, and ADA Business ResourcesSM.

It has been said that "you can never go home again." Dr. Andrew Glenn not only chose to return to his hometown of Lincoln, Neb., following completion of his residency in oromaxillofacial surgery, he also built the office of his dreams there (Fig. 1).

A second-generation dental practitioner (his father, Dr. Robert Glenn, is an orthodontist), Dr. Glenn worked with a carefully selected team to create an office that is a true representation of the level of care he provides for patients.

Unthank Design Group, led by Dr. Michael Unthank, provided planning, interior architectural, and interior design services for the project. As a dentist and registered architect, Dr. Unthank was uniquely able to guide Dr. Glenn in realizing the vision he had for his practice.

Fig. 2: Each minor procedure room is equipped with a patient education monitor.

Geri True, ASID, served as the interior designer for the project, coordinating the selection and specification of finish materials, furnishings, and lighting with the remainder of the interior architectural design.

Dr. Glenn's office includes three treatment rooms for minor procedures (Fig. 2), an operating room, a postop recovery area, an exam/consultation space, and other support functions in 3,295 square feet of leasehold space (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: The planning is based on layering the flow from public to private.

The plan also features a comfortable reception area (Fig. 4), a staff lounge, a private office for Dr. Glenn, and separate spaces for financial arrangements (Fig. 5) and the practice's business manager. Optimal traffic flow and space efficiency were high priorities and were accomplished throughout the office. The use of glass and mirrors in key areas contributes to the spacious, open feel of the facility.

Patient privacy was a primary consideration in the planning process, leading to careful consideration of sight lines, and the incorporation of a separate surgery exit. Visual and acoustic privacy are enhanced by "layering" spaces from public functions to private functions, and screening patients from public view with ribbed glass elements (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4: The reception area offers a variety of comfortable seating options.

The consultation/exam room allows access for the team member, patient, and attendant to enter from the more public side while the doctor enters from the treatment side. The glass door, with a large panel of obscure glass surrounded by smaller panels of clear glass, allows team members to monitor the room while patients see it as an attractive door.

Technology integration is a key component in the office, and includes individual flat-screen TV monitors at every patient chair, and clinical workstations in each treatment and recovery room. A central technology alcove incorporates a workstation using Dragon "Naturally Speaking" software for charting (Fig. 6), with pertinent patient communication documents configured as "merge" documents.

Fig. 5: The financial arrangement area is convenient to the front desk while being completely removed from other patient activities.

The practice's Web site not only serves marketing purposes, but also allows patients to preregister and view information about their upcoming procedures online. An electronic signature pad and card scanner (for insurance cards) await patients' arrival (Fig. 6). The doctor's love of contemporary art and natural materials inspired a color scheme that blends the warm and cool neutral tones found in wood and stone.

Accents of cherry wood, glass and slate-textured tile, and granite are used judiciously throughout the office for maximum visual impact yet with a sensitivity to budget. Dramatic original art give the spaces "cutting edge" appeal.

Materials were selected not only for their esthetic qualities, but also their appropriateness for the dental environment. Colors and textures were selected for their contribution to a sensory experience of serenity and professionalism.

Fig. 6: Voice recognition software paired with merge documents eliminates transcription.

Careful analysis of how Dr. Glenn intended to practice, empathetic consideration of his patients' needs, and working with a team of skilled dental design professionals led to the realization of Dr. Glenn's "dream office."

Not only has he returned home to live and work, Dr. Glenn now has a home for his practice that supports its growth and ongoing success.

Michael Unthank, DDS, Architect, is the owner of Unthank Design Group, located in Lincoln, Neb. Geri True, ASID, serves as the company's Director of Interior Design. Unthank Design Group provides space planning, interior architecture, and interior design services for the dental professions throughout North America. For more information, call (402) 423-3300, visit, or Unthank Design Group on Facebook.

Editor's Note: ADA Business ResourcesSM is a service mark of the American Dental Association. ADA Business ResourcesSM is a program brought to you by ADA Business Enterprises, a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Dental Association.

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